Coke, pressed by Oxfam, pledges zero tolerance for land grabs in sugar supply chain
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Coca-Cola has agreed to review its top sugar suppliers to ensure that the company does not buy from large plantations that were assembled using “land-grab” tactics that evict small farmers or local residents, the company announced this week.
The soft drink company is taking the action on the urging of human rights group Oxfam. As part of a series of commitments announced on its Web site Thursday night, Coke also disclosed the names of its top individual sugar suppliers for the first time — Brazil’s Copersucar, Thailand’s Mitr Phol and Nigeria’s Dangote — and identified Brazil, Mexico and India as its top three national sources of the sweetener.
The company said it would conduct independent “social, environmental and human rights” assessments of its top 16 sugar-supplying countries, beginning this year with Colombia and Guatemala and continuing with Brazil and four other nations where Oxfam feels “risks exist for land tenure violations.”
The company framed its announcement as “zero tolerance for land grabbing.” In practice, it said that its sugar suppliers and vast network of independent bottlers would now have to ensure that land for sugar production was acquired with the “free, prior and informed consent” of local owners or communities that had traditional use of the property.