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PepsiCo Names Sunsweet Growers Hot Fill Co-packer of the Year for 2007

YUBA CITY, Calif., Feb. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) named Sunsweet Growers, Inc. as its inaugural Hot Fill Co-packer of the Year for exhibiting superior achievements in quality and overall effectiveness across PepsiCo's beverage supply chain. The company was honored recently at an awards ceremony in Chicago, Ill.

Sunsweet, which has teamed with PepsiCo for six years, was chosen from more than twenty co-packers for its achievements providing Hot Filled products to Pepsi-Cola North America's supply chain. PepsiCo rated its packers based on quality, customer service, and cost. Sunsweet is the first recipient of this award, which was created this year.

"Our innovation teams often rely on Sunsweet to bring new packages and products to the marketplace and Sunsweet's increasing flexibility and skill in execution gives us an advantage over the competition," praised Pepsico's Contract Manufacturing Group.

"PepsiCo is tough, but fair, in what they ask of their packers," said Gene Dodson, vice president of operation at Sunsweet Growers. "If they require a system design modification to accommodate specifications that are particular to a new product, our ability to comply is critical. We're thrilled that PepsiCo has recognized the hard work we've put in responding to their dynamic needs."

The Hot Fill process is used to eliminate the use of preservatives, which consumer's are demanding in today's marketplace. Sunsweet uses the technology to package PepsiCo products such as Dole juices, Lipton Teas, and SoBe beverages.

Dodson notes that PepsiCo has an intricate and extensive quality control system, which leaves no room for error in the packaging process.

"All controls during the Hot Fill process are PepsiCo compliant so that PepsiCo understands exactly what is going on with their product through each step of the process," Dodson said. "Compliance to a higher standard is important to them; it's our responsibility to meet that standard."

Sunsweet uses the same Hot Fill technology to package its own Sunsweet Prune Juice and Sunsweet PlumSmart brands. Sunsweet's years of contract packaging experience have proven invaluable to the snack and soft drink giant, which relies on precise yet flexible standardization in its operating systems.

"The difference isn't so much in the technology, but in how the process is carried out," said Arthur Driscoll, president and chief executive officer at Sunsweet. "Our ability to respond to new product ideas and to meet aggressive goals and deadlines is what sets us apart. When PepsiCo introduces new products or has immediate distribution needs, we have been able to respond while still maintaining the highest quality standards."

About Sunsweet Growers

Headquartered in Yuba City, CA, Sunsweet Growers, Inc. is one of the world's largest handler of dried fruits including dried plums, apricots, cranberries and raisins. A grower-owned marketing cooperative representing a substantial share of the dried plum market worldwide, Sunsweet processes more than 60,000 tons of dried plums a year. Additionally, Sunsweet has state-of-the-art bottling facilities that produce single and multi-serve beverages with capacity of more than 25,000,000 cases annually. Sunsweet boasts an enviable brand recognition of 85 percent in American households, placing it in the very top rank of long-standing successful American products.

About PepsiCo

PepsiCo is one of the world's largest food and beverage companies, with 2007 annual revenues of more than $35 billion. Its principal businesses include: Pepsi-Cola beverages, Gatorade sports drinks, Tropicana juices and Lipton teas. Its portfolio includes nearly 20 brands that generate $1 billion or more each in annual retail sales.

Source: Sunsweet Growers, Inc.

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