Interview of Carol Haverty
Regulatory Affairs at PepsiCo
PepsiCo, the ubiquitous American household name, is a multinational corporation. Since its formation in 1965, PepsiCo has expanded from its namesake product to a vast range of food and beverage brands. One of the largest of these is Tropicana Products, acquired in 1998, in addition to Naked Juice and several more brands since, many of which are proudly OK Kosher certified. We currently certify 451 products for the PepsiCo Corporation, under various brand names, produced worldwide.
Carol Haverty is based out of PepsiCo’s Illinois R&D Headquarters and is tasked with the responsibility of coordinating kosher activities for certain brands within PepsiCo.
1 Describe your first encounter and continued relationship with the OK.
I first met with the OK in 2008 when I moved into the role as Kosher Coordinator for Tropicana and Naked Juice Brands. I first met with them on the phone and shortly after traveled to Brooklyn to visit their office. I was concerned at first; not having any experience in kosher, I didn’t know what to expect. The meeting went well, we had a good discussion along with some great bagels and I soon felt at ease. After the meeting, a group of us went to the Jewish Children’s Museum which I found very helpful and educational. I especially like the mocked up grocery store. It helped me see our products through the kosher consumer’s eyes. As the Kosher Coordinator, I worked with Rabbi Dovid Steigman, of blessed memory, with whom PepsiCo staff had a very close relationship. The great rapport with Rabbi Hendel has continued this positive collaboration and I enjoy working with the entire team.
2 How did “going kosher” make a difference in your business?
We know many of our consumers require kosher products for a variety of reasons, so our products are certified kosher in order to reassure those consumers that our products are safe for them as part of a kosher diet. Kosher certification also provides our consumers with a higher level of trust in our brands and an appreciation for the care we put into the products that bear the Tropicana and Naked Juice brand names, amongst others certified by OK Kosher and bearing its symbol.
3 What is the biggest challenge in maintaining kosher?
The hardest thing for me is keeping up with the fast pace. While some of our products are household staples, we also stay on top of new innovation and consumer trends. As our portfolio evolves and grows, I need to stay on top of submitting new ingredients and products to the OK for kosher approval. Mindy Goodman, our Account Rep, makes sure the submission of our new requests to OK Kosher are completed in an efficient and timely manner. My relationship with her is always a very helpful and friendly one.
4 What would you say to a company considering obtaining kosher certification?
I would advise anyone thinking about kosher certification to do their homework. I’ve learned there are differences in the certifying agencies and they need to select one that reflects the image of their brand. Tropicana and Naked Juice are both highly respected brands and the OK speaks to that with the respect it carries in the kosher community. Also I would advise them to take advantage of the resources the OK has and their willingness to assist the brands they certify.
5 What do you wish you knew when you started the process that you now know?
Back when I first starting doing kosher for Tropicana and Naked Juice, I wish I knew what a great partnership was in store for me. I was worried about making mistakes through my own lack of understanding what kosher really was and what it meant to the people who keep kosher. I didn’t fully understand the resources the OK had available for me and their willingness to help me work through what I didn’t understand no matter how large or trivial it was.
A word from Rabbi Sholom Ber Hendel, Rabbinic Coordinator for PepsiCo:
“Carol is a true partner in ensuring OK Kosher standards are adhered to in all that we certify for the PepsiCo company. She has developed an extensive knowledge in kosher requirements, and with guidance from OK Kosher has given several presentations on kosher to her colleagues. She is capable of fielding the many questions about kosher regulation that come to her on a regular basis. For our team at OK Kosher, it is always a pleasure working Carol. She is always very responsive and makes sure that any matters which come up are resolved quickly. One of her strongest attributes is that she does not shy away from asking questions, and is always on top of the best way to handle any situation. We would like to take this opportunity to wish her and PepsiCo further success in their work, which is greatly appreciated by both the OK and the kosher consumer.”
A few words from Mindy Goodman, Account Representative:
“Carol is a pleasure to work with. She is thorough in her review and submission of each ingredient and product, and has encouraged her staff to do the same. Whether she has a question regarding a kosher certificate, equipment, or kosher in general, she will ask questions to ensure complete clarity. Likewise, when we have a question regarding submissions or products at any facility, she is quick to respond with a clear answer.”