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Press Releases & Updates

24 OCT 2013

Oxfam calls on big food and drink companies to stop conflicts over land as global sugar production continues to soar

In its latest report following the Behind the Brands campaign, Oxfam highlighted examples of land grabs and disputes linked to companies that supply sugar for Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products, and allegations of disputes inside Associated British Foods’ (ABF) supply chain. Oxfam urges these three companies to stop land grabs and conflicts in their supply chains.

Oxfam’s latest report “Nothing sweet about it: How sugar fuels land grabs” states that sugar lies at the heart of the bitter problem of land grabs. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and ABF 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 report provides evidence of land grabs and conflicts involving the three companies in Cambodia and Brazil:

• 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 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.

• 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.

The global sugar trade is worth about $47 billion. The world produced 176 million tonnes of sugar last year. The food and beverage industry accounts for more half of it. A total of 31 million hectares, equals to 280 times the size of Hong Kong, is already being used to grow our sugar, much of it in the developing world.. Land grabs are big deals where local communities that rely on the land are evicted without consent or compensation. Sugar trade is helping to fuel the problem of land grabs and disputes.

"The people who love their products expect better. We are calling on them to join us in demanding Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and ABF to stamp out land grabs now. These three companies have a huge amount of power and influence. If they act, they could transform the industry," Kalina Tsang, Senior Manager of the Hong Kong Programme Unit of Oxfam Hong Kong said.

Consumers can support the campaign by emailing ABF, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola at http://www.behindthebrands.org/en/campaign-news/take-action.

The three companies scored poorly or very poorly on their land policies in Oxfam’s Behind the Brands scorecard. Oxfam urges them to publicly disclose who and where they source their commodities, publish assessments about how the sugar they purchase affects local communities’ land rights, and use their power to encourage governments and the wider food industry to respect land rights.

Notes to editors

Full text of the report “Nothing sweet about it: How sugar fuels land grabs” (English version only)

Videos on the land grabs and land conflicts in Brazil and Cambodia:

Brazil

Cambodia

Behind the Brands website: http://www.behindthebrands.org/

About Oxfam

Oxfam is dedicated to fighting poverty and inequity worldwide. The international and independent development and humanitarian organisation tackles poverty in four main ways: sustainable development in poor communities, disaster relief, local, national and global advocacy, and education with Hong Kong youth. Established in Hong Kong in 1976, Oxfam Hong Kong is a founding member of Oxfam, an international confederation that has assisted poor people in 94 countries. Oxfam Hong Kong alone has supported poor people in over 70 countries/regions.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Kit Chau
Assistant Communications Officer
Oxfam Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 3120 5272
Email: kit.chau@oxfam.org.hk