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Coca-Cola to buy Costa Coffee for £3.9 billion

Costa’s ethical score to fall from 6.5 to 2 out of 20  

Coca-Cola announced plans last week to buy the high-street coffee chain, Costa Coffee, from its current owners, Whitbread PLC for £3.9 billion.

If the deal goes through Costa’s ethiscore will plummet as a result, down from 6.5 to a measly 2.

This will see Costa fall from the middle to the very bottom of our ethical rankings table in our guide to coffee shops.

Costa currently loses full marks under Human Rights, Workers’ Rights and Palm Oil for its owner, Whitbread’s, activities. The chain itself has also been criticised for its refusal to pay living wage, and loses marks under Animal Rights and Factory Farming for the sale of non-free-range meat.

Coke's poor record on ethics

However, new owner Coca-Cola loses marks under almost every single one of Ethical Consumer’s categories, it has received serious and repeated criticism for its involvement in environmental and human rights abuses.

The company faces several long-running boycott calls. It is accused of paying Colombian paramilitaries who murdered nine union members at its bottling plants. The boycott campaigns also say that the company ordered serious anti-union violence at Turkish and Guatemalan plants. In November 2017, the company was also found to be using anti-union laws established by the Indonesian Suharto dictatorship to suppress its workers’ rights to associate in the country, almost two decades after the dictatorship’s overturn.

Issues extend right into its supply chain: it has been accused of funding land grabs in its sugar supply chain and of syphoning water away from drought-ridden communities in Central America. Unfortunately, the company’s record at home is not much better. Coca-Cola has recently come under attack for its efforts to combat the sugar tax in the UK and the US.

The purchase of Costa follows a recent trend for soft drinks manufacturers seeking a change of tack. PepsiCo is also planning to purchase the fizzy drinks maker SodaStream in January 2019, and Nestlé has offered to pay $7.1bn for the right to sell Starbucks branded coffee pods.

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