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GLOBAL: Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo speak out over Oxfam sugar attack

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The Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo have countered criticism from the charity Oxfam for allegedly failing to tackle disputes over so-called land grabs to fuel the sugar trade.

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In a report, entitled 'Nothing sweet about it: How sugar fuels land grabs', the charity outlines cases in Brazil and Cambodia where disputes have erupted over property seized by sugar producers reportedly supplying Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam's executive director, said: "Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods are the world's biggest producers and buyers of sugar but they are doing little to ensure the sugar in their products is not grown on land grabbed from poor communities."

In an emailed statement to just-drinks today (2 October), Coca-Cola said: “Through our Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles, we are asking our suppliers to recognise and safeguard the rights of communities and traditional peoples to maintain access to land and natural resources. 

“We are working to promote respect for human and workplace rights by the farm and the employer of workers at the farm, whether or not the employer is the farm itself.”

In a statement PepsiCo said it takes seriously questions raised about the practice of suppliers. "We have reached out to the suppliers; they have assured us they are in compliance with applicable laws," the company said. "We continue to engage with our partners to further understand how they are addressing the issues raised by Oxfam." 

It added: "PepsiCo has a global Supplier Code of Conduct that helps ensure that our business operations meet our global expectations in the areas of labor practices, associate health and safety, environmental management, and business integrity." 


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