The Coca-Cola Company declares "zero tolerance" for land grabs in supply chain

By Oxfam

WASHINGTON, DC — Oxfam welcomed today's commitment by the Coca-Cola Company 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. The Coca-Cola Company 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.

"Today one of the biggest companies in the world stood up to take greater responsibility for the impacts of its operations," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. "Coca-Cola has taken an important step to show consumers and the communities it relies upon that it aims to be a part of the solution to land grabs. This will resonate throughout the industry."

"The public response to the campaign has been tremendous. This commitment is further evidence that no company is too big to listen to its consumers. The biggest food giants in the world are changing how they operate because consumers are demanding it."

Oxfam welcomes Coca-Cola'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, including bottlers, do the same.
  2. Immediately disclose the top three countries and suppliers of its cane sugar.
  3. 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.
  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 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: http://coca-colacompany.com/our-company/commitment-on-land-rights

The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods face increasing pressure from the public to act to address land rights. 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

"We applaud the Coca-Cola Company's leadership in declaring zero tolerance for land grabs—a vital first step," said Judy Beals, Campaign Manager for Behind the Brands. "We look forward to tracking the actions the company takes to follow through on their 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. The ball is now in PepsiCo and ABF's court to respond to the hundreds of thousands of people calling for action."

Notes to editors:

  1. Oxfam's petition targeting Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods is available at: www.behindthebrands.org/actnow
  2. Oxfam's investigation into land grabs in sugar supply chains is available at: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/research-publications/nothing-sweet-about-it
  3. Oxfam's Behind the Brands ranking of food and beverage companies is available at www.behindthebrands.org

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