Multinational soft drink giant Coca-Cola today agreed to take steps to stop the practice of land grabs among its network of suppliers after more than 225,000 people signed petitions and took action in support of Oxfam’s campaign to urge food and beverage companies to respect community land rights.
The company committed its bottlers and franchise holders 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.
Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said PepsiCo and Associated British Foods (ABF), the two other targets of Oxfam’s campaign, had yet to address the issues highlighted by Oxfam’s report, Nothing Sweet About It, released last month.
“Today, one of the biggest companies in the world stood up to take greater responsibility for the impacts of its operations,” Dr Szoke said.
“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 customers. 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:
- 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.
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://www.coca-colacompany.com/
“We applaud the Coca-Cola Company’s leadership in declaring zero tolerance for land grabs- a vital first step,” Dr Szoke said. “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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