The Coca-Cola Company today committed to take steps to stop land grabs from happening in its supply chain after more than 225,000 people signed petitions and took action as part of Oxfam’s campaign to urge food and beverage companies to respect community land rights.
The company committed its bottlers to do the same. Coca-Cola also said it will do sweeping social and environmental assessments across its supply chains beginning with Colombia, Guatemala and Brazil, then moving on to India, South Africa and other countries, and that it will publicly reveal its biggest sugarcane suppliers.
PepsiCo and Associated British Foods (ABF), the two other targets of Oxfam’s campaign, have yet to address the issues highlighted by Oxfam’s report, Nothing Sweet About It.
“Coca-Cola’s decision to take responsibility for their operations shows that customers have a voice and no company is too important to listen”, said Robert Fox, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada. “One of the world’s biggest companies wants to be part of the solution. We hope this will inspire others in the industry to stand up and do the same”.
Oxfam met with Coca-Cola officials in Toronto on World Food Day, October 16, and welcomes their commitment to “zero tolerance” for land grabbing, including commitments to:
- Adhere to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent across its operations and require that its suppliers, including bottlers, do the same.
- Immediately disclose the top three countries and suppliers of its cane sugar.
- Conduct and publish third-party social, environmental and human rights assessments, including into land conflicts beginning in seven critical sourcing regions: Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, India, Philippines, Thailand and South Africa.
- Engage with governments and international bodies to support responsible land rights practices.
- Engage with suppliers regarding the cases cited in Oxfam’s Nothing Sweet About It report to pursue resolutions that respond to community concerns.
As the largest purchaser of sugar in the world, Coca-Cola has immense power to influence its suppliers and the industry. These steps will improve transparency and accountability in Coca-Cola’s supply chain and help push stronger standards in the industry. As a result of these commitments, better preventative measures will be taken by Coca-Cola to avoid land conflicts that drive farmers out of their homes. The company’s full commitments can be seen at: https://coca-colacompany.com/our-company/proposal-to-oxfam-on-land-tenure-and-sugar
Judy Beals, campaign manager of Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Campaign said: “The public response to the campaign has been tremendous. The biggest food giants in the world are changing how they operate because consumers are demanding it.”
According to an analysis by Oxfam using the social media monitoring tool Topsy.com, since the launch of Oxfam’s campaign on October 2nd:
- 51% of tweets mentioning @CocaColaCo originated from Oxfam and its supporters
- 43% of tweets mentioning @PepsiCo originated from Oxfam and its supporters
- 58% of tweets using the hashtag #ABF originated from Oxfam and its supporters
“Coca-Cola’s zero tolerance policy is a big step in the right direction,” said Fox. “Equally important however, are the actions the company will take to ensure this policy becomes a reality, not just ink on a page.”
Oxfam will be tracking the actions the company takes to follow through on their promises – in particular advocating, along with local partners, for appropriate resolution for the communities in Brazil and Cambodia who continue to struggle to regain the rights to their land.
Beals added that: “The ball is now in PepsiCo and ABF’s court to respond to the hundreds of thousands of people calling for action”.
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Notes to editors:
1. Oxfam’s petition targeting Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods is available at: www.behindthebrands.org/en-ca/actnow
2. Oxfam’s investigation into land grabs in sugar supply chains is available at:
3. Oxfam’s Behind the Brands ranking of food and beverage companies is available at www.behindthebrands.org/en-ca/scorecard
Oxfam Case Study links:
For more information: