Unesda announces new President


Peter Harding, CEO Suntory Beverage & Food Europe assumes the role as of 1 July 2023

Peter Harding, CEO of Suntory Beverage & Food Europe, has been elected as the new President of Unesda Soft Drinks Europe, representing the non-alcoholic drinks industry in Europe. He takes up his two-year mandate from 1 July 2023, taking over the presidency from Ian Ellington of PepsiCo Europe.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Harding said: ‘’I am absolutely delighted to have been appointed President of Unesda for the next two years. Unesda has a solid reputation at EU level, and I couldn’t be more excited to build on our strong momentum to contribute to the transition to a more sustainable and healthier food system in Europe. The soft drinks sector plays a major role in the European economy and our entire value chain is estimated to be worth 185bn euros per annum.1 We are a valued employer and together with our suppliers and extended value chain we support 1.7 million jobs across Europe. As an important sector within food and drink, we believe we have a key leadership role to play to help drive strategic sustainable change for Europe, while supporting the growth ambitions of our sector. I am committed to accelerating our sector’s actions and look forward to working with all stakeholders on an enabling policy and regulatory framework.’’

Mr Harding also commented on the role Unesda and its network should continue to play in society: ‘’The soft drinks sector is a very local industry with more than 400 manufacturing plants located across Europe, all strongly connected to their local community. I will encourage our network around Europe to continue supporting relevant social initiatives. I am a true believer that we have the power to make the world a better place, and giving back to society is the key to making it real.’’

Reacting to Mr Harding’s appointment, Nicholas Hodac, director general of Unesda, said: ‘’I am thrilled to welcome Peter as the new President of Unesda and work closely together towards realising our sector’s ambitions at such a pivotal time for us. We are entering into our next strategic phase as major legislative files are being reviewed, such as the proposed EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, and we get ready for a new era of EU policy with the European elections next year. I greatly look forward to the next chapter of our incredible journey.’’

Hodac concluded: ‘’I also wish to express my debt of gratitude to our outgoing President, Ian Ellington, for his extraordinary leadership of Unesda in the past two years. Ian has significantly strengthened our association’s leadership role in driving circularity forward and helping European consumers to make more sustainable and healthier dietary choices.2 We have taken bold leaps forward and we will build upon this great progress.’’


Peter Harding’s biography

Peter earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economic History from Durham University in the UK where he developed a keen interest in business and economics. He began his career in the consumer healthcare industry, joining GlaxoSmithKline in 1991.

Over the course of his career, Peter has held various leadership roles including General Manager VP Consumer Healthcare Ireland, VP Global Marketing, and General Manager SVP Consumer Healthcare GB & Ireland.

In 2014, Peter joined Lucozade Ribena Suntory, a subsidiary of Suntory Beverage & Food Europe, as its Chief Operating Officer (COO). In this role, he played a key role in the company’s growth strategy and was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company’s operations, including marketing, sales, and supply chain management as well as leading the successful business integration of the Lucozade and Ribena brands into Suntory from GSK in 2014.

In 2018, Peter was appointed CEO of Suntory Beverage & Food Europe, where he is responsible for leading Suntory’s strategic direction and growth across 60 countries across Europe, Africa and overseas territories. Under his leadership, the company has continued to expand its portfolio of products, including a focus on low- and no-sugar drinks. In his CEO role, Peter is an active advocate of sustainability and has overseen the company’s transition to more sustainable packaging.  He is also sponsor of the company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force where he regularly hosts meetings with employees and external experts to learn more about how the company can progress on the issues that matter most.

Another important focus of Peter’s leadership is his commitment to giving back to society. This is a key part of Suntory’s philosophy and is implemented through a broad range of actions, from charitable donations and employee volunteering initiatives (‘Together for Good’) to community programmes aiming at preserving water (‘Guardianes del Tajo’ in Spain), empowering young people (partnership with Apprentice Nation in the UK) and tackling social exclusion and poverty (partnership with Secours Populaire Français in France).


Note to Editors

For further information, please contact:                                                               

Inês Rebelo

Communications Manager, Unesda Soft Drinks Europe

M: +32 477 860 901, irebelo@unesda.eu 


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