Top 10 boycotts

As boycotts hit the headlines, we ask our readers what they are currently boycotting.

Recently we’ve seen more and more conversations about boycotting: from questions over whether we should avoid products made in China, to the importance of the BDS campaign for Palestinian rights

We sent our readers a survey to find out who they are boycotting. 

Here's a list of the top 10 companies, countries or products that they say they are currently boycotting.

1. Amazon

83% of readers are joining us in our boycott of Amazon.

We’ve been boycotting Amazon over their egregious tax avoidance since 2012.

Amazon recently announced that in 2020 it paid no corporation tax despite making a sales income of €44billion in Europe.

Find out more and join the campaign:

2. Nestlé

28% of readers have joined the world’s longest running boycott.

Baby Milk action first called a boycott of Nestlé in 1977, and since then the global boycott campaign has targeted the company over the aggressive sale and marketing of formula to new mothers.

image: introduction BDS Movement protest
Image from BDS Movement

3. BDS

26% said that they are part of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign, or boycott companies complicit in the Israeli state’s abuses.

BDS calls for the international community to put non-violent pressure on Israel until it complies with international human rights laws, such as the Geneva Conventions and UN Resolution 242. We view the Palestinian BDS movement as a way for civil society to hold Israel to account for its internationally condemned human rights violations.

4. China

12% of respondents said that they were boycotting China, mainly over their treatment of the Uyghur minority.

The human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese state are numerous, and many are linked to global corporations and products sold around the world. Increasingly people are asking should we boycott ‘made in China’?

We explore the question through the cases of China’s abuses in Tibet, Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in our latest feature.

5. Tesco

8% specified Tesco as a boycott target, but if you add in those that said they were boycotting all supermarkets this figure rises to 10%.

Supermarkets often score badly on our rating system, and many readers will remember the Tescopoly campaign of the early 2000’s, which called for a boycott of the company due to their rapid expansion.

Recently they have faced pressure over deforestation across Brazil for meat.

image: deforestation caused by palm oil indonesia bad industry
Image credit: Greenpeace

6. Palm oil

8% of people said that they are boycotting products containing this controversial ingredient.

Consumers increasingly want to avoid palm oil where possible, but it's a tricky task as it's used in so many products - including more than 50% of packaged supermarket products from margarine and oven chips to soaps and detergents.

We have advice on companies and brands to avoid, how to go palm-oil-free with certain products, whether there are sustainable alternatives, and whether we as consumers should boycott palm oil. Go to our special page on palm oil to find out more.

7. Coca-Cola

6% are boycotting the infamous soft drinks company.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke has called for a boycott of the company, following claims that it had been involved in the murders of union leaders at its factories in South America, and in other instances of violence, intimidation and workers' rights abuses. 

Coca-Cola was accused of paying Colombian paramilitaries who murdered nine union members at its bottling plants. The campaign website also lists reports of the company ordering serious anti-union violence at Turkish and Guatemalan plants.

8. Plastics

Plastics of one variety or another (including disposables and plastic toys) were mentioned by 5% of responders.

According to the Environmental Justice Foundation, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now estimated to be three times the size of France, with 46% of it composed of discarded nets and other kinds of fishing gear.

Aside from the environment, plastic could be affecting the health of humans and other animals. The WWF found that the average person ingests the equivalent of a credit card of plastic every week.

9. Asda

Asda received 4% of the votes (rising to 7.5% if you also count those who said they were boycotting all supermarkets).

While the company isn’t under any specific boycott calls, they score (and have scored) consistently poorly in our ratings tables. They sit near the bottom of the supermarkets guide with a score of zero.

cattle in pens factory farming

10. Meat products

5% said they were boycotting meat products. 

We imagine that the number that identify as vegan or vegetarian is much higher (and perhaps don't consider this a boycott as such). 

Our recent Ethical Consumer Markets Report found that sales of meat-free and dairy-free products increased by 25% and 28% respectively in the 12 weeks ending April 20203. 

The results also showed that 30% of people intend to eat less meat and dairy than before the pandemic. This change is likely due to people paying more attention to their health, the environment and/or animal welfare, as these topics are increasingly dominating the public’s decision making. 

More mentions

There were many other companies mentioned by readers as targets for their own boycotting. These included:

Google, Boots, Barclays, Sports Direct, Cadburys, Facebook, Primark, H&M, Zara, HSBC, Apple, Wetherspoons, Shell, Dyson, Starbucks, Unilever, McDonalds and more.

Other themes mentioned included fast fashion, products tested on animals, banks that invest in fossil fuels, GM foods and all companies with a low ethiscore.

We should also say that some people were boycotting a number of things. This included one dedicated reader who told us that they boycotted, “Nestlé, Coke, Pepsi. All companies (especially cosmetic companies) that do not have a proven track record of not testing on animals for any ingredients in their products. I particularly boycott large unethical corporations that buy small ethical companies then trade on their good reputation, effectively deceiving the public.”

Thanks to all those that took part. The results are based on 693 responses.