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

8th Nov 2013

Oxfam today welcomes Coca-Cola's commitment to take steps to stop land grabs from happening in its supply chain. More than 215,000 people signed petitions around the world and took action as part of Oxfam's campaign to urge food and beverage companies to respect community land rights.

The company has said its bottlers and franchise holders will do the same. Coca-Cola added that 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.

 Oxfam's Head of Private Sector Advocacy, Penny Fowler said; "Today one of the biggest companies in the world stood up to take greater responsibility for the impacts of its operations.

"Coca-Cola has taken an important step to show its customers and the communities it relies upon that it aims to be a part of the solution to tackling land grabs. This commitment is further evidence that no company is too big to listen to its customers."

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 and independent franchisees, 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.

"Coca-Cola's leadership in declaring zero tolerance for land grabs is a vital first step," said Fowler. "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 follow suit."  

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Notes to editors:

Oxfam's petition targeting Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods is available at: www.behindthebrands.org/actnow

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

Oxfam's Behind the Brands ranking of food and beverage companies is available at www.behindthebrands.org

The company's full commitments can be seen at: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/

For further information or interviews please contact Georgette Thomas: Gthomas@oxfam.org.uk / Mob: +44 (0)7824 503108