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PepsiCo declares “zero tolerance” for land grabs in supply chain

By Ben Grossman-Cohen

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Oxfam welcomes PepsiCo’s commitments to act following tremendous public pressure

PepsiCo, the world’s second largest food and beverage company, today committed to take steps to stop land grabs from happening in its supply chain after more than 272,000 people signed petitions and took action as part of Oxfam’s campaign to urge food and beverage companies to respect community land rights.

PepsiCo also said it will do sweeping social and environmental assessments across its supply chains beginning with its top sugar sourcing country, Brazil - by the end of 2014 - followed by Mexico, Thailand and the Philippines. In addition the company publicly disclosed, for the first time, its top suppliers and sourcing countries for palm oil, soy and cane sugar, three commodities at the heart of the global land rush.

This announcement comes on the heels of similar commitments made by the Coca-Cola Company in 2013. Associated British Foods (ABF), the other target of Oxfam’s campaign, recently created new policies committing to the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), which helps ensure communities are consulted and must give consent before the land they are using is sold. Oxfam is in dialogue with ABF-owned Illovo, the largest sugar producer in Africa, to pursue effective implementation of this new policy.   “Consumer power just got a little bit more powerful,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. “The second biggest food and beverage company in the world has committed to put its full weight behind preventing land grabs in its supply chain. Suppliers who want their ingredients to be used in everything from Lays and Doritos to Gatorade and Mountain Dew must now ensure their land is acquired responsibly.”   “This would never have happened without hundreds of thousands of people standing up to insist that companies respect the rights of people in their supply chains. No company is too big to listen to its customers. Together we can transform the food industry if consumers demand it.”

Oxfam welcomes PepsiCo’s commitment to “zero tolerance” for land grabbing, including commitments to: 1. Adhere to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent across its operations and require that its suppliers do the same. 2. Immediately disclose the top three countries and suppliers of its cane sugar, palm oil, and soy. 3. Conduct and publish third-party social, environmental and human rights assessments - including of land conflicts – in 4 major sourcing countries in Latin America and Asia. 4. Engage with governments and international bodies to support responsible land rights practices. 5. 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 second largest food and beverage company in the world, PepsiCo has immense power to influence its suppliers and the industry. These steps will improve transparency and accountability in PepsiCo’s supply chain and help push stronger standards in the industry. As a result of these commitments, better preventative measures will be taken by PepsiCo to avoid land conflicts that drive farmers out of their homes. The company’s full commitments can be seen at: http://www.pepsico.com/Purpose/Performance-with-Purpose/Policies

The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods faced significant pressure from the public to act to address land rights. Oxfam and partners filed a shareholder resolution last November to raise investor pressure on PepsiCo to address land grabs.

“We applaud PepsiCo’s important step forward in declaring zero tolerance for land grabs,” said Byanyima. “Given the complexity of PepsiCo’s supply chain it is a credit to the company to have made such ambitious commitments. We will monitor the actions the company takes to follow through on these promises. In particular we will continue to advocate, 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. Other companies must now follow PepsiCo and Coca-Cola’s lead and transform the industry’s approach to land rights.”

//ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. Read PepsiCo’s full commitment at: http://www.pepsico.com/Purpose/Performance-with-Purpose/Policies

2. Oxfam’s investigation into land grabs in sugar supply chains is available at: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/press/publications/nothing-sweet-about-it

3. Oxfam’s Behind the Brands ranking of food and beverage companies is available at www.behindthebrands.org/scorecard/scorecard

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