PepsiCo Australia partners with more than 30 potato growers across the country, our growers are at the heart of our business and provide us with the highest quality potatoes that make some of Australia's most loved snacks including Smith's and Red Rock Deli chips.

Meet Richie Cuda, PepsiCo's Grower of the Year 2019. 

Richie Cuda works alongside his two sons, Adam and Klinton on the family-owned Cuda Farms, based an hour outside of Cairns, QLD. Richie has been growing potatoes for more than 50 years. Cuda Farms first began supplying to PepsiCo thirty-five years ago, and now Cuda Farms exclusively grows potatoes for PepsiCo. 

When asked about what he loved most about being a PepsiCo potato grower, he answered, "It is very gratifying to walk into a shop and see them selling Smith's chips and know that what you do day in and day out with your sons helped to get that product on the shelf."

Cuda says that although being a grower is incredibly rewarding, it does come with its challenges as you are at the mercy of the elements. Cuda explained "We are in a high rainfall area, so drought isn't normally an issue thankfully. Our biggest issue is storms, and we have machinery in place to track and monitor water levels to combat this to avoid flooding. We've also made significant investments technology to be able to operate, even during storms."

"We have a great relationship with the PepsiCo Agronomy team, we feel like an extension of the team they include us in their plans and future mapping." - Richie Cuda.

Sustainable farming is also a priority for Cuda. "You have to be sustainable for the environment and business, and you can't afford to slip with volume, so everything is well measured and calculated. Our land is all closely managed to avoid erosion, and we use the latest technology to control emissions," said Cuda. Cuda also explained that one way in which they have improved the sustainability of the farm through the implementation of an effective transportation system, to get the potatoes to the PepsiCo plant, "We use rail instead of trucks, which makes it 90% more fuel-efficient." 

PepsiCo has supported Richie and his sons with their sustainability efforts. Cuda Farms was picked by PepsiCo's agronomy team to be one of the growers to trial water measures to boost water effectiveness with irrigation. They have also taken part in trials with new varieties of spuds that take less input and provide more yield. Last year, Cuda travelled with the Australian Agronomy team to meet growers and agronomists from PepsiCo in the US. The purpose of the trip was to attend best practice learning sessions and to bring learnings back to his farm.

He also added that he attributes his success as PepsiCo's Grower of the Year to his family, "I am fortunate to have my sons beside me, it's just the three of us who work on the farm, and I couldn't do it without them."

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