5 June 2014
Pepsi and Coca-Cola issue new policies on land grabs; NGOs say action by states required
After a critical report by Oxfam last year, two world players in the sugar industry – Coca-Cola and Pepsi – have published new policies on land grabs by their suppliers. In March 2014, Pepsi announced ‘a land policy with zero tolerance for illegal activities in our supply chain and for land displacements of any legitimate land tenure holders’. Coca-Cola made a similar announcement late last year.
According to Chris Jochnick, head of Oxfam America’s private sector development arm, the recent developments are ‘remarkable’ and the companies’ new policies may be a tipping point after decades in which native and traditional peoples were evicted by commodity suppliers, often with support of the state. Pepsi has started investigations into its supply chains and the conduct of commodity providers. However, it is likely that change will come slowly, due to the lack of transparency and accountability in the food and beverage industry.
Tara Norton of the NGO Business for Social Responsibility stated that ending human rights abuses is not just the responsibility of businesses; ‘agricultural products are at big risk of human rights violations. Companies have to engage with governments to make enforcement happen’. However, according to Oxfam, Brazil, Indonesia and other states have taken little action to restore the rights of people who were evicted.