Coca-Cola withdraws business from Russia while other companies remain

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: Coca-Cola
Photo Credit: Coca-Cola

Related tags: Russia, Ukraine, Coca-cola

Coca-Cola is the latest major global food and beverage giant to suspend operations in Russia as an act of protest against the Russian invasion and continued attack on Ukraine and follows similar announcements made by PepsiCo, Starbucks, and McDonald's.

In a press statement, Coca-Cola said: "The Coca-Cola Company announced today that it is suspending its business in Russia. Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine. We will continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve."

Coca-Cola products first entered the Russian market in 1980, and in 1992, Russia opened its first factories where it produced Coca-Cola products. Today, the company employs over 7,000 people in Russia and in 2018 made up 0.2% of Russia's GDP (the equivalent of 195.2 million rubles), according to Coca-Cola​. 

According to a spreadsheet​ compiled by Yale School of Management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his research team, 290 global companies have announced their withdrawal from Russia in protest to its invasion of Ukraine over two weeks ago.

Kellogg, Kraft Heinz, McDonald's, PepsiCo, Starbucks, and Yum Brands all announced varying degrees of freezing business in Russia. Both Kellogg and Kraft Heinz said they would suspend shipments to and investments in Russia while PepsiCo said it would suspend operations in Russia except for essentials and McDonald's announced that it would close over 800 stores in Russia, according to the spreadsheet (which was last updated on March 8, 2022).

In PepsiCo's statement​ to the media on its current state of business in Russia where it has been operating for more than 60 years, the company said: "Given the horrific events occurring in Ukraine we are announcing the suspension of the sale of Pepsi-Cola, and our global beverage brands in Russia, including 7Up and Mirinda.

"We will also be suspending capital investments and all advertising and promotional activities in Russia... As a food and beverage company, now more than ever we must stay true to the humanitarian aspect of our business. That means we have a responsibility to continue to offer our other products in Russia, including daily essentials such as milk and other dairy offerings, baby formula and baby food. By continuing to operate, we will also continue to support the livelihoods of our 20,000 Russian associates and the 40,000 Russian agricultural workers in our supply chain as they face significant challenges and uncertainty ahead."

Pressure builds for other companies

Sonnenfeld's spreadsheet also listed several other companies "that remain in Russia with significant exposure"​ including Bunge, Cargill, Grupo Bimbo, Mars, Mondelēz, and Nestlé  -- several of which do over $1bn in revenue in Russia (i.e. Bunge, Cargill, Mondelēz, and Nestlé). Several of these companies did suspend operations in neighboring Ukraine owing to the safety of its employees and their families in the country.    

Speaking on the crisis two weeks ago, Mondelēz International CEO Dirk Van de Put said that the company would cease operations in both Ukraine and Russia if the situation became "too dangerous"​ but has not provided an updated statement on whether it has ceased business operations in Russia in any way. 

In a LinkedIn post from last week Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider wrote: "I would like to express my dismay regarding the invasion of Ukraine. I stand with the international community in calling for peace. War is not a solution." ​In response to the crisis, Schneider said that Nestlé would match employee donations to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies - IFRC, up to CHF 1 million (US$1.08bn). 

Nestlé has not provided an updated statement on what it plans to do in Russia where it does a substantial amount of business (2.3% of company revenue equal to ~$1.7bn). 

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