In August 2017 Ethical Consumer searched The Coca Cola Company's website, www.coca-colacompany.com, for information on its supply chain policy. The company's 2016 Sustainability Report and Supplier Guiding Principles were downloaded. Based on these documents and additional material found on the website, Coca-Cola was rated as follows:

SUPPLY CHAIN POLICY - RUDIMENTARY
The company's “Supplier Guiding Principles” document contained brief clauses on freedom of association, wages, discrimination, forced labour and child labour.
The clause on child labour stated only, “adhere to minimum age provisions of applicable laws and regulations”. Coca Cola's Human Rights policy stated only, "The Company prohibits the hiring of individuals that are under 18 years of age for positions in which hazardous work is required." The clause on wages stated only that employees should be compensated “relative to the industry and local labor market”. It failed to mention a living wage.
The company's additional Issue Guidance stated, "If the eight Core Conventions of the International Labor Organization establish higher standards than local law, the ILO standards need to be met by the supplier." The company's supply chain policy was considered rudimentary.

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT - RUDIMENTARY

Coca Cola stated that it was committed to “Biannual Meetings and ongoing dialogue with the International Union of Food and Allied Workers; and Engagement with NGOs and others in a variety of forums, such as the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights." However it provided no details of its work with these organisations.

The company offered EthicsLine, a free reporting service for employees to report violations, administered by a third party, Global Compliance.

AUDITING AND REPORTING - RUDIMENTARY

In its webpage on the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act, The Coca Cola Company stated that "all of the bottling operations and authorized suppliers selling more than $60,000 annually to the Coca-Cola system are required to complete a third-party audit and share the audit results with The Coca-Cola Company",
"The audits are generally announced, but the Company reserves the right to conduct unannounced audits as well",
"SGP compliance is part of the supplier authorization process and progress is tracked and reported internally on a quarterly basis and reported externally on an annual basis. ... The Company’s publicly stated goal is that, by 2020, 98 percent of bottling plants and 95 percent of in-scope suppliers will achieve compliance with the Supplier Guiding Principles."
"The Company works with those sites that have not yet achieved compliance to remediate issues".

Although the company had a schedule and a remediation process, there was no detailed disclosure of audits or the results. Additionally, no commitment was made to audit the whole supply chain. It was not clear who covered costs of audits. The Coca Cola company therefore received a rudimentary rating for auditing and reporting.

DIFFICULT ISSUES - POOR
The company stated that it was commited to "Annual Company-wide employee communication and individual certification of our Code of Business Conduct and Human Rights Policy". However, as several clauses of its policy (which was in line with its Supplier Guiding Principles) were considered inadequate, this was not considered a good enough approach to difficult issues.

It also stated, "we have a strategy and action plan in place that includes conducting human rights due diligence studies focused on forced and migrant labor, child labor and land rights issues in a number of key countries...The results of the studies will give us a factual basis to engage with industry, government and NGOs to mitigate human rights impacts, as needed." It was not clear that the company had yet developed a systematic approach to dealing with problems exposed.

The company received a poor rating for difficult issues.

Overall the company received a middle rating for its supply chain management.

Reference:

Coca cola website (25 July 2016)

On 5 November 2015, the Independent newspaper reported that Coca-Cola had planned to take its Christmas truck to 46 locations in the UK, and would travel through towns with some of the highest child obesity levels in England.

The truck was scheduled to call at Manchester, Liverpool and the London boroughs of Greenwich and Westminster - with one in four children there reported officially obese. It would also visit Gloucester, Great Yarmouth, Middlesbrough and Nottingham, all appearing in the top 50 areas for child obesity, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Labour MP Keith Vaz said the Coca-Cola Christmas truck was "not welcome" in his constituency of Leicester.

Mr Vaz, who had type 2 diabetes, said: “The Coca-Cola truck is not welcome in Leicester, and this national tour to promote sugar-laden drinks is ill-judged and unwise at a time of record diabetes and obesity levels.”

He said the promotion of sugary drinks was the "wrong thing" in a city where a third of children had tooth decay.

A spokesperson for Coca-Cola said that they wouldn't sample drinks "directly to under 12s", although Mr Vaz said he believed that would be "unenforceable".

Reference:

Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour: The map that shows the towns with the highest child obesity levels b

The Guardian reported on its website on 19th December 2015 that Campaigners had claimed that a multimedia publicity campaign launched at the beginning of 2015 misled consumers by suggesting that Sidral Mundet – an apple-flavoured drink which contained 60 grams of sugar in each 600ml bottle – was made from apples.
Adverts with the slogans “with apple juice” and “with pasteurized juice” accompanied by images of juicy apple slices had been plastered across billboards, bus stops and delivery vans across Mexico.
More than 70 videos which suggested the drink was made from fresh apples were also posted on YouTube. In one video, a whole red apple emerged from a flower pot after Sidral was poured in. In another, the drink was made by mixing an apple in a cocktail shaker.
Sidral was launched in Mexico in 1902, and bought by Coca-Cola in 2002. It contained 1% of “juice from concentrate” – which was classified as an added sugar by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In February 2015, the campaign group Consumer Power reported the company to federal authorities, and accused Coca-Cola of intentionally misleading consumers about the content and benefits of Sidral. The group also claimed that the use of the term “pasteurized” was disingenuous as it normally applied to fruit juices, not sodas.
The federal prosecutor’s office for consumer rights (Profeco) asked Coca-Cola to clarify how much apple juice and apple flavour the drink contained, and to explain the use of the word Pasteurised.
In response, the company launched a legal challenge in March and claimed that its constitutional right to a fair trial had been violated. It further argued that the country’s federal consumer rights law was unconstitutional.
Coca-Cola also claimed that the complaint was directed at the wrong party, as its publicity and labeling was run by a subsidiary, Propimex.

Reference:

Coca-Cola ads suggesting soda is made from apples lead to legal battles (19 December 2015)

According to an article published on the Guardian website on 2 December 2015, consumer rights and health groups had called on the Mexican government to ban a new Coca-Cola ad which depicted young white people handing out Coke as a service project at an indigenous community in southern Oaxaca state.
The ad was criticised for its depiction of light-skinned, model-like young people joyously constructing a Coca-Cola tree in town and hauling in coolers of Coke.
The report noted that Mexico had very high rates of diabetes and obesity especially among indigenous people. The Alliance for Food Health called on the National Council to Prevent Discrimination to pull the ad campaign immediately. The alliance, a coalition of consumer rights and health groups, said it was an attack on the dignity of indigenous people and contributed to their deteriorating health. Mexico was reported as a major consumer of soda and other sugared drinks.

The ad was publicly posted on a Coca-Cola YouTube channel until 1 December when it was removed, after news of the campaign about it broke.

In the commercial, the company stated that the campaign was meant to encourage people to “break down prejudice and share”.
"This Christmas a group of young people decided to give something very special to the indigenous community of Totontepec [Villa] de Morelos in Oaxaca. You, too, open your heart,” Coca-Cola said in the advert. The Company stated that 81.6% of Mexico’s indigenous people felt rejected for speaking a language other than Spanish, though it didn’t cite the source.

The ad showed young women and men joyously sawing wood, welding and painting before they playfully headed off in an El Camino pickup to the eastern mountains of Oaxaca where Totontepec was located. They built a red tree with Coca-Cola lights to the smiles, hugs and appreciation of the locals, who belonged to the Mixe community. Across the lighted tree were the words “We will stay united” in the Mixe language.

The commercial on YouTube and its hashtag #AbreTuCorazon (open your heart) had drawn a slew of critical comments. “Coca-Cola is working on some genius colonial branding in Mexico with its out-of-touch, racist #AbreTuCorazon campaign,” one critic said. Another asked: “Why don’t you have the people of Oaxaca taking their culture to other countries?”

Coca-Cola responded: “We appreciated you sharing your concerns. We will be sure to pass along your comments.”

Reference:

Coca-Cola under fire over ad showing Coke handout to indigenous people (2 December 2015)

In April 2018, Ethical Consumer viewed an article on the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre website titled 'Forcibly Displaced Cambodians File Historic Lawsuit against Asia’s Largest Sugar Producer' and dated to April 2018.

The article stated that displaced farmers from Cambodia had filed a class-action lawsuit against the Thai sugar producer Mitr Phol. 'The legal complaint was filed in a Thai civil court by two plaintiffs representing a class of approximately 3000 people who were violently displaced and dispossessed of their land and livelihoods in five remote villages in northwestern Cambodia to clear the way for a Mitr Pohl sugarcane plantation between 2008 and 2009.' Mitr Pohl was said to be the fourth largest sugar supplier in the world, and sold sugar to global brands including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle and Mars.

'The suit alleges that Mitr Phol’s operation in Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey province resulted in violent forced evictions, burning of homes, looting of crops and livestock and the seizure of land that was legally held by local farmers. Forests inside the company’s land concessions that local communities relied upon for their livelihoods were illegally logged. Those who resisted were threatened, arrested and imprisoned...[T]he National Human Rights Commission of Thailand found Mitr Phol directly responsible for human rights violations committed in conjunction with its operations in Cambodia...Mitr Phol told the commission that it would compensate affected people in accordance with international standards but has failed to do so.'

Coca-cola therefore lost half a mark under Human Rights.

Reference:

Forcibly Displaced Cambodians File Historic Lawsuit against Asia’s Largest Sugar Producer (April 201

In July 2016 Ethical Consumer viewed the April 2016 "Behind the brand" scorecard produced by Oxfam as part of its GROW campaign which evaluated the world's top 10 most powerful food and beverage companies. The campaign aimed to challenge the companies to begin a "race to the top" to improve their social and environmental performance.

Coca-Cola was ranked third out of ten companies in the scorecard. Overall Coca-Cola scored 57% and was rated by Oxfam as "fair". The company was rated in seven areas and marked out of ten for each area.

According to the report Coca-Cola scored:

8/10 for its land policies - Coca-Cola was a leader on land rights. After being the first to adopt “zero tolerance” for land grabs throughout its supply chain, its supplier guiding principles on human/worker rights now refer to fair compensation and grievance mechanisms where land rights have been violated.

6/10 for policies on women - On top when it comes to supporting women, Coca-Cola scored well for running high-profile projects with women in rural areas and for officially pledging to support women farmers. Now it was about tracking those promises to see what actions the company takes to follow through on its leadership.

3/10 for policies on farmers - Coca-Cola still had a lot of progress to make in how it deals with the smallholders in its supply chain. While the company seemed to be quite aware of what it should do, it had yet to make credible commitments to support the smallholders from whom it sources.

6/10 for policies regarding workers - Coca-Cola’s policies towards workers are, quite strong in many places, but to have a real impact, the company needed to recognise and act on the issue of low wages.

6/10 for policies on climate change - A former leader on climate change, Coca-Cola is now in the middle of the pack as other companies have established stronger commitments. There is real room for improvement on issues such as developing stronger emissions reduction and renewable energy goals and in moving toward implementation on issues like achieving deforestation across commodities.

5/10 for transparency - Coca-Cola was impressively honest and forthcoming about the auditing and compliance of its suppliers and about what happens if suppliers fall short.

6/10 on water - Coca-Cola demonstrates good understanding of the importance of water and of its own impact on supplies, but it needs to disclose more about whether and how it operates in water-stressed regions.

While Coca-Cola received a best rating for its land policies it failed to receive similar ratings in the other categories therefore it lost marks under Ethical Consumer's Human Rights and Workers Rights categories.

Reference:

Behind the Brands April 2016 scorecard (19 April 2016)

The Hoovers Family Tree for The Coca Cola company, accessed on its website, www.hoovers.com, by Ethical Consumer in August 2017, listed subsidiaries in the following countries which were regarded by Ethical Consumer as oppressive regimes at the time of writing: Vietnam, Philippines, Russia, India and Sri Lanka. The company's website, www.coca-colacompany.com also mentioned operations in Thailand, also considered an oppressive regime at the time of writing.

Reference:

Generic Hoovers Ref (2017)

In October 2018 Ethical Consumer searched the Costa website for a policy on wages or information about the Living Wage. No information could be found. At the time of writing Costa was not listed on the Living Wage Foundation website.

In 2014 the Living Wage Commission released a report called Working for Poverty. The report listed the top 10 occupations by proportion paid below the living wage. Bar staff, waiters / waitresses and kitchen and catering assistants were found to be the top three occupations in the UK with the highest proportion of people paid below the living wage. The report found that low paid workers were increasingly turning to support to get by with a growing dependence on debt, food banks and in-work benefits. Ethical Consumer considered low wages to be endemic throughout the hospitality industry.

As a result Costa lost half a mark under Workers' Rights.

Reference:

www.costa.co.uk (4 October 2018)

In February 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed the 2018 ‘Know the Chain’ report which had assessed 38 Food & Beverage companies' to capture the key areas where companies need to take action to eradicate forced labour from their supply chains.

The Coca-Cola Company was one of the companies assessed. The report stated that Know The Chain chose to benchmark the largest (publicly traded) global companies in several at-risk sectors, as these companies have a large workforce in their supply chains, as well as significant leverage.

The report stated:
"The Coca-Cola Company (Coca-Cola)... ranks third out of 38 companies, disclosing more information on its forced labor policies and practices than its peers across all themes. Compared to 2016, the company improved its score by four points. This is because the company discloses that it is co-chairing the work stream on responsible recruitment of the industry initiative AIM-PROGRESS, which involved awareness raising on this topic among suppliers and industry peers. It further discloses that it trained suppliers in different countries on forced labor and responsible recruitment. Notably, Coca-Cola has the second highest score on the theme of remedy and is the only company to disclose several examples of remedy provided to workers in its supply chains. Additional steps the company could take to address forced labor risks in its supply chains, include strengthening its disclosure and practices on the themes of purchasing practices, worker voice, and monitoring."

The company scored the following in the report's themed scores:
Commitment and Governance 89 out of 100
Traceability and Risk Assessment 63 out of 100
Purchasing Practices 58 out of 100
Recruitment 60 out of 100
Worker Voice 34 out of 100
Monitoring 55 out of 100
Remedy 75 out of 100

As the company did not score more than 70/100, it lost half a mark under the Workers’ Rights category.

Reference:

KnowTheChain 2018 food and beverage ranking (2018)

In November 2017 Ethical Consumer viewed a report on the Business and Human Rights website, dated to the 25th October. The report stated that a Coca-Cola subsidiary, Coca-Cola Amatil, was using structures from the overturned Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, to prevent workers' right to organise.

"Nearly two decades after the fall of the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) is still clinging to the repressive trade union structures established under the authoritarian military regime...

CCA believes that the old trade union structures of the SPSI-RTMM (National Union of Tobacco, Food and Beverage Employees of Indonesia), which for years colluded with the military to suppress workers' human rights, are useful for its business expansion. As the company restructures, management can make deals with SPSI-RTMM to prevent workers from challenging and negotiating those changes. It ensures that those who claim to speak on behalf of workers will not defend their rights...

...More and more workers are standing up to exercise their human rights - to form and join trade unions of their own choosing - like workers in other multinational companies where independent, democratic trade unions were formed after the fall of the dictatorship in 1998...

...The elected trade union leaders of these new independent unions have been targeted, victimized and terminated or forcibly transferred."

The report stated that the Coca-Cola Company had not responded to the claims.

It lost marks under Workers' Rights for this.

Reference:

Coca-Cola Amatil Violates Workers' Right to Organise (25 October 2017)