In February 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the website of Friends of Al Aqsa, a UK-based non-profit NGO.

This called on consumers to boycott Coca-Cola because it "profits from the occupation."

It stated: "Central Bottling Company (CBC) is an Israeli manufacturer and distributor of soft drinks, dairy products and alcoholic beverages. Coca-Cola profits from the occupation by working with CBC which sells its drinks in Israel. CBC has a Coca-Cola factory in Atarot illegal Israeli settlement. Israeli settlements are built on land stolen from Palestinians and are illegal under international law."

"By having its Israeli franchise in illegal settlements, Coca-Cola ignores international law and profits from the illegal occupation. FOA is calling for Coca-Cola to cut ties with CBC."

"Buying from companies which work in settlements such as Coca Cola means we as consumers are turning a blind eye to the illegal occupation of Palestinian land."

The company therefore lost a whole mark under Boycott Call.

Reference:

foa.org.uk (22 October 2020)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer searched the Costa website. The menu listed a number of items containing meat and dairy that were not certified organic or free range. In absence of a statement stating otherwise, Ethical Consumer assumed it highly likely that these products were derived from factory farmed animals. The company therefore lost marks in the Animal Rights and Factory Farming categories.

In addition, in March 2015 the British government website, www.food.gov.uk, stated that the EU animal feed industry imported 70% of its maize, soya and rapeseed requirements; that "almost all" of the soya from the major producers Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and the USA was genetically modified and that "much of" the maize imported from the USA was genetically modified. Costa had no policy or statement regarding GMOs in products or animal feed. Ethical Consumer therefore felt it highly likely that Costa animal products were raised with the use of GM feed and it therefore lost half a mark in the Controversial Technology category.

Reference:

https://www.costa.co.uk (23 November 2020)

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer searched The Coca-Cola Company website for information on its GMO policy.

No clear policy was identified. The most recent information appeared to be in an article on the website dated 13 December 2017, titled 'Coca-Cola continues to provide more product info in more places'. This stated "People can quickly scan a QR code on their mobile phones to pull up basic ingredient information as well as additional information such as GMO". The fact that customers could search for whether beverages contained GMOs was taken to imply that some products might contain GMO ingredients.

A number of connected companies, such as Coca-Cola European Partners and the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, clearly stated that they did not use GMO ingredients in any of their drinks.

However, in the absence of a clear company-wide policy against GMO usage The Coca-Cola Company lost half a mark in the Controversial Technologies category.

Reference:

coca-colacompany.com (19 October 2020)

In June 2018, Ethical Consumer viewed a report on the Environmental Working Group’s website, which had been published in February 2016, and looked at lobbying by groups opposed to GMO labelling laws.

The report stated that “Big food, farm and biotechnology companies and trade associations working to prevent labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients reported spending $101.4 million on lobbying last year.”

The report looked at the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, a trade group that represents food manufacturers, as well as specific companies. It stated that the GMA filed disclosures reporting $10.5 million in lobbying expenditures in 2015 for the anti-labelling battle and other GMA legislative priorities. It also stated that since January 2014 the GMA had hired 34 lobbyists and spent $2.8 million on lobbying that went exclusively to advocate anti-GMO-labelling legislation.

The report also discussed the DARK Act, which had passed the House of Representatives and was being discussed in the Senate, in February 2016. The act would bar states from enacting laws to require GMO labelling and make it harder for companies to make voluntary GMO disclosures. The Act had been passed in August 2016.

The report stated that 9 out of 10 Americans supported GMO labelling laws, and some 64 other nations had imposed them.

Coca-Cola was said to have spent a total of $17,980,000 on lobbying between 2013-2015, including $8,670,000 in 2015. It therefore lost half a mark under both Political Activities and Controversial Technologies.

Reference:

https://www.ewg.org/research/lobbying-anti-labeling-groups-tops-100m#.Wx-IjtVKjcs (25 February 2016)

In October 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the entry for The Coca-Cola Company on the Opensecrets.org website, which was published in the USA by the Centre for Responsive Politics.

This stated that in 2019 the company had spent $6,680,000 on lobbying. It also stated that in the 2018 election cycle it made $511,000 in political donations to federal candidates. Of this, 58% was donated to Republican candidates and 42% to Democrats.

NOTE: OpenSecrets states: “The organization itself did not donate, rather the money came from the organization's PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate family members. Organizations themselves cannot contribute to candidates and party committees. Totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.”

In 2019 25 out of 31 lobbyists were said to have previously held government jobs.

Reference:

Open Secrets generic ref 2020 (2020)

The American Chamber of Commerce website, viewed by Ethical Consumer in November 2019, listed The Coca-Cola Company as a member. Ethical Consumer regarded AMCHAM-EU to be a corporate lobby group which lobbied for free trade at the expense of animal welfare, human rights or the environment. The company therefore lost half a mark under Political Activities.

Reference:

Members List February 2020 (February 2020)

According to the website of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), visited in December 2019, The Coca-Cola Company was listed as a director. The NFTC's motto was 'Advancing Global Commerce' and it also claimed to be "the only business association dedicated solely to trade policy, export finance, international tax, and human resource issues on behalf of its members". It also stated the organisation advocated open world markets and fought against protectionist legislation and policies. It also offered rapid and effective response to fast-moving legislative and policy developments by a team with a reputation for tackling tough issues and getting results, and participation in NFTC-led business coalitions on major international trade and tax issues. These were listed as benefits of membership of the organisation. The company therefore lost half a mark under Political Activities.

Reference:

Members List (December 2019)

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed The Coca-Cola Company's Proxy Statement 2020. It stated that the company's six named Executive Directors received over £1 million in total compensation in 2019. The highest paid, James Quincey, received USD$18,000,995 (£13.9m).

Ethical Consumer deemed any annual amount over £1million to be excessive. The company therefore lost half a mark under Anti-Social Finance.

Reference:

Proxy Statement 2020 (2020)

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company's Annual Report 2016 stated that its Chief Executive Officer, Dimitris Lois was paid a Euro 2,923,000 (£2,586,000) in 2016.
Ethical Consumer considered remuneration over £1m to be excessive.

Reference:

Annual report (2016)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Monster Energy Corporation's latest SEC Filing 10K. It stated that the company's five Named Executive Directors received over £1 million in total compensation in 2019. The highest paid received $13,982,434 million.
Ethical Consumer deemed any annual amount over £1million to be excessive. The company therefore lost half a mark under Anti-Social Finance.

Reference:

SEC Filing 10K (2019)

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed The Coca-Cola Company's family tree on the Hoovers corporate database.

This showed that the company had several subsidiaries in jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing. Of these, the following were considered high risk company types for likely use of tax avoidance:
Wave Insurance Co., Ltd in Bermuda (Insurance subsidiary)
Red Life Reinsurance Limited in Bermuda (Insurance Subsidiary)
COCA-COLA FAR EAST LIMITED in Hong Kong (Holding company)
COCA-COLA CHINA LIMITED in Hong Kong (Holding company)
Coca-Cola Holdings (Nederland) B.V. in Netherlands (Holding company)
COCA-COLA SINGAPORE HOLDINGS PTE. LTD. in Singapore (Holding company)

The company's Form 10-K for the year ended December 2018 was also viewed. While its principal executive officers were located in Atlanta the company was incorporated in Delaware, which Ethical Consumer considered a tax haven at the time of writing.

An internet search using the search terms “Coca-Cola company tax policy statement country” found no country-by-country financial information or reporting (CBCR). The Tax Policy page on the company website made no clear statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity or to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes, nor did the company provide a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven is for, and how it is not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.

Given that The Coca-Cola Company had two or more high risk subsidiaries in jurisdictions on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list and no country-by-country financial information, nor adequate policy statement and narrative explanation, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a full mark under Tax Conduct.

Reference:

Form 10k 2018 (31 December 2018)

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) published a report in March 2017: The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth; Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies, 2008 to 2015.

The report documented just how successful many Fortune 500 corporations had been using loopholes and special breaks over the past eight years, in order to have paid less than the 35% federal income tax on their U.S. profits - with many having paid nothing at all.

ITEP stated: "As lawmakers look to reform the corporate tax code, this report shows that the focus of any overhaul should be on closing loopholes rather than on cutting tax rates."

The report included only corporations which had been consistently profitable every year between 2008 to 2015. By leaving out corporations that had losses in any one year (which means they wouldn’t have paid any tax), the report provides a straightforward picture of average effective tax rates paid by the 258 biggest and most consistently profitable U.S. companies.

The report found that one hundred of the 258 companies (39 percent of them) paid zero or less in federal income taxes in at least one year from 2008 to 2015.

The sectors with the lowest effective corporate tax rates over the eight-year period were Utilities, Gas and Electric (3.1%), Industrial Machinery (11.4%), Telecommunications (11.5%), Oil, Gas, and Pipelines (11.6%), and Internet Services and Retailing (15.6%). Each of these industries paid, as a group, less than half the statutory 35 percent tax rate over this eight-year period.

Coca-Cola was one of the companies in the report. Over the eight year period covered by the report, the company was found to have made US$23,845.9 million profit, on which it paid US$4,853.8 m tax. This worked out at a rate of 20.4%.

Reference:

The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth; Corporate Tax (March 2017)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Monster Beverage Corporation's list of subsidiaries in its SEC Filing 10K. This showed that the company was incorporated in Delaware, despite the company's website stating that it was "Based in Corona, California". Delaware was considered by Ethical Consumer to be a tax haven at the time of writing.
Also, the company had a number of subsidiaries in jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing. Of these, at least two were holding companies, which was a high risk company type for likely use of tax avoidance. For example:

- Monster Energy PRC Holdings (HK) Limited in Hong Kong
- Monster Energy Switzerland Holding GmbH in Switzerland

An internet search using the search terms “Monster Beverage Corporation tax policy statement country” found no country-by-country financial information or reporting (CBCR), nor clear public tax statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity or to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes, nor did the company provide a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven is for, and how it is not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.

Given that Monster Beverage Corporation's ultimate holding company was incorporated in Delaware, and had two or more high risk subsidiaries in jurisdictions on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list and no country-by-country financial information, nor adequate policy statement and narrative explanation, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a full mark under Tax Conduct.

Reference:

SEC Filing 10K (2019)