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Published on October 3rd, 2013 | by Jennifer Kaplan

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Oxfam Slams Coke, Pepsi Sugar Land Grabs

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pepsi sugar

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods are the world’s biggest producers and buyers of sugar are not doing enough to stop land grabs and conflicts in their supply chains, says Oxfam in a new report issued today.

This is no small issue. According to a press release yesterday, the global sugar trade is worth about $47 billion. with global sugar production coming in at 176 million tons last year. In 1822, the average American consumed 9 grams of sugar a day; Today, the average American takes in 153 grams daily. That’s roughly 36 teaspoons.

While increasing demand for sugar has health advocates ringing alarm bells, Oxfam says it has largely gone unnoticed that the sugar trade is also helping to fuel the problem of land grabs and international disputes. 76.6 million acres, an area the size of Italy, is already being used to grow our sugar, much of it in the developing world.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods all scored “poorly” or “very poorly” on their land policies in Oxfam’s Behind the Brands scorecard.

  • Coca-Cola is the world’s largest buyer of sugar and controls 25% of the global soft drink market.
  • PepsiCo controls 18% of the global soft drink market.
  • Associated British Foods is the world’s second largest sugar producer and the owner of popular brands such as Silver Spoon Sugar and Ovaltine.

- See more at: http://www.oxfam.org/en/grow/pressroom/pressrelease/2013-10-02/big-food-drink-companies-stop-conflicts-land-sugar-production#sthash.WddtCxz3.dpuf

Coke, Pepsi and Sugar Land Grabs

Land grabs are big deals where local communities that rely on the land are evicted without consent or compensation. Oxfam says that the world’s ten biggest food and drink companies lack strong enough policies to stop land grabs and disputes from featuring in their supply chains.

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam said:

“Sugar is already linked to serious health issues. It also lies at the heart of the bitter problem of land grabs. 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. The people who love their products expect better. We are calling on them to join us in demanding that Coke, Pepsi and Associated British Foods act now to stamp out land grabs. These three companies have a huge amount of power and influence. If they act they could transform the industry.”

Plantations destroy forests and farms

Oxfam has evidence of land grabs and conflicts in Cambodia and Brazil including:

  • A fishing community in Pernambuco State, Brazil fighting for access to their land and fishing grounds, after having been violently evicted in 1998 by a sugar mill. The mill provides sugar to Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Many of the families are now living in slums of the nearest town and struggling to make a living.
  • In Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil indigenous communities are fighting the occupation of their land by sugar plantations supplying a mill owned by Bunge. Coca-Cola buys sugar from Bunge in Brazil but says it does not buy from this particular mill. The plantations have destroyed the forests that the people had relied upon for food.
  • In Sre Ambel District in Cambodia, 200 families are fighting for land from which they were evicted in 2006 to make way for a sugar plantation. The plantation has supplied Tate & Lyle Sugars, which sells sugar to franchises that manufacture and bottle products for Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. The families’ lives have been devastated as they no longer have anywhere to grow crops or graze their livestock.
  • Associated British Foods (ABF), through their ownership of Illovo, Africa’s biggest producer of sugar cane, has also been linked in media reports to land conflicts in Mali, Zambia and Malawi.

Oxfam is calling on Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods to commit to ‘zero tolerance of land grabs throughout their supply chains.’  You can support the campaign by emailing ABF, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola at www.behindthebrands.org

Photo: meunierd / Shutterstock.com



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About the Author

Jennifer Kaplan writes regularly about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for EatDrinkBetter.com and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was been named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - find her on .



  • http://www.adonisgoldenratioblog.com/ Manny

    Wow, truly alarming numbers but this stuff barely scratches the surface of what a real health killer sugar is!

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