KOH KONG, Cambodia — Song Kong wouldn’t think of buying a Coke or Pepsi at his local village store in rural Cambodia. With an income of about $1.50 per day, he needs to save every penny to keep his five children from starving.
Despite Kong’s thriftiness, Oxfam contends that the soft drink powerhouses are already taking food from his children’s mouths.
In a report released earlier this month, the organization alleges that a plantation whose sugar ends up in the companies’ products has robbed 457 families of their farmland — their primary source of income.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi companies have promised to look into the allegations. After Oxfam released the report, both companies issued statements acknowledging the problem of land grabs.
\”We sympathize with the citizens whose lives and livelihoods have been affected,” Coca-Cola said. “While the Coca-Cola system does not buy sugar directly from any suppliers in Cambodia, we have agreed to convene a facilitated stakeholder dialogue to discuss Oxfam’s overall findings of the assessments and next steps, demonstrating the company’s commitment to transparency and the importance placed on stakeholder engagement.\”
PepsiCo didn\’t respond to GlobalPost\’s request for interviews. In a statement, Coca-Cola told GlobalPost, “through our Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles, we are asking our suppliers to recognize 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.”