International aid agency, Oxfam has commissioned a new report titled ‘Sugar Rush’ which accuses beverage and food manufacturing giants including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo of not being proactive enough in stopping land grabs and conflicts throughout their networks of suppliers.
The report highlights examples of land grabs (large-scale land acquisitions in developing countries) and disputes that are linked to companies that supply sugar to both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, as well as allegations of land disputes among suppliers of Associated British Foods including Ovaltine and Twinings.
Kelly Dent, Oxfam Australia’s acting public policy manager said that the world’s increasing appetite for sugar – an industry which is worth over $50b annually – is helping to fuel the problem of land grabs.
Dent says that 31m hectares – an area which is larger than Victoria – is currently being used to grow the world’s sugar in developing nations.
“Sugar is not only bad for our health, it’s bad for the communities around the world that have been forcibly removed from their land without their consent or compensation,” Ms Dent 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.
“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.”
Oxfam has listed evidence of land grabs and disputes within Brazil and Cambodia that have forced communities out of the area and have destroyed forests that people have relied on for food. The agency also provides direct links that prove that some of the sugar sourced by Coke, Pepsi and Associated British Foods are from these devistated communities.
Oxfam has called upon Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods to commit to zero tolerance of land grabs throughout their supply chain and have urged consumers to play an active role.
“Consumers also have an important role to play, by urging the big companies to do what is right,” said Dent.