Coca-Cola: Company Profile

As we all know Coca-Cola is the world's largest soft drinks brand. The company is also a major sponsor of the Olympic Games.

But what of the companies ethics? Is it in the medal places or is it a corporate also-ran.

Last updated: July 2016

Annual Revenue£29.88 billion


Other BrandsFanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Glaceau Smartwater, Oasis, Schweppes mixers, Innocent smoothies & many more.


Company Score2.5 out of 20


BoycottsYes from Killer Coke

Ethical Consumer Best Buy?No


Ethical issues by category

In July 2016 Coca-Cola received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for its Supply Chain Management. Its supply chain policy was rated as “rudimentary”, its stakeholder engagement and its auditing were rated as “poor”, and no discussion of difficult issues could be found.

Coca-Cola has been accused of sourcing oranges from Southern Italy that are harvested by African migrant workers in terrible conditions. 

The company also had operations in many countries considered oppressive regimes by Ethical Consumer: Vietnam, Philippines, Russia, Thailand, India and China. 

Coca-Cola has frequently been criticised for its product promotion on the grounds that it is fuelling obesity and diabetes and that the adverts make misleading health claims.

In 2015 it was criticised for taking its Christmas truck to areas with some of the highest child obesity levels in the UK. In the same year consumer groups in Mexico called on the government to ban an ad which depicted young white people handing out Coke to an indigenous community. And in the U.S. a consumer advocacy group called Right to Know made an official complaint to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking it to stop the Coca-Cola Company from making what it says are illegal claims that its artificially sweetened sodas prevent, mitigate or treat obesity.  

In July 2016, the Coca-Cola company was awarded Ethical Consumer’s best rating for Environmental Reporting. It received this because it had an up to date environmental report which contained more than two quantified environmental targets, was independently verified and contained a good discussion of its environmental impacts. 

However in 2015 an environmental protection bureau in China found a Coca-Cola Company bottling facility in Gansu province to have falsified pollution data.

As of 2016, villagers in Plachimada, India are still protesting the lack of compensation for the pollution caused by a Coca-Cola plant 13 years ago. The plant was shut down but the villagers claim "we haven't yet got clean drinking water, nor justice we sought".'

According to the company’s website, some of Coca-Cola’s drinks contain small traces of fish gelatine.

The Company states that it does not conduct animal tests on its beverages itself, but that 'it relies on third-party experts and research organisations to test the safety of the ingredients and packaging”.

In July 2016 Coca-Cola received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies, because it had more than two high risk company types registered in jurisdictions considered to be tax havens. In addition, EU investigators announced in 2015 that they were to investigate Coca-Cola over paying insufficient taxes. 

The company’s 2015 SEC filing listed five senior staff who were paid over £1 million. The highest paid received over $18 million. 

According to a 2015 analysis by the US Environmental Working Group, Coca-Cola was one of 81 companies that spent substantial sums of money lobbying against US GMO labelling legislation. Although the UK website states that Coca-Cola does not use GMO ingredients, the US products contain high fructose corn syrup, which is commonly genetically modified.


In-Depth Information

See the Coca-Cola company page for detailed company information, background stories behind the ratings direct from our Corporate Critic database, and 'email the company' tool.

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