Three Ukrainian supermarket chains announced they are removing Coca-Cola products from their store shelves and the hashtags #BoycottCocaCola, #BoycottPepsi and #BoycottMcDonalds were trending on Twitter over the weekend as customers vowed to shun their products so long as they continue to do business with Russia.
Dozens of big corporations including Apple and Netflix have halted operations in the country in the 10 days since President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine.
But, while many firms have taken a stand, several food and drink companies have stayed silent and refused to cut ties with Russia.
Major players including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are now coming under increasing pressure from both political figures and social media users to pull their business from the country.
Ukrainian supermarket chain Novus said on Friday that it would stop selling Coca-Cola products – including Coca-Cola, Fanta, Schweppes and BonAqua mineral water – slamming the company as “shameless” for continuing to “work for the invaders in full strength”.
“Our supermarket chain no longer cooperates with the Coca-Cola company, which continues to operate in the territory of the aggressor,” the company said in a Facebook post.
“We are abandoning all products belonging to the brand.”
Supermarket chain Fozzy Group also said it was pulling products from shelves and stopping all future deliveries.
“From today, we are removing all products from the shelves of Silpo, Fora, FOZZY Cash&Carry, Market super Thrash (Thrash) stores and stop all future deliveries,” the company said, according to Interfax-Ukraine.
Varus also joined in the boycott, citing the “official position of the Coca-Cola company to continue its activities in the market of the aggressor country”.
The boycott came after Russian state-owned media source TASS reported on Thursday that the company had pledged to keep business open in the country.
A spokesperson for Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company – the bottling company that has exclusive rights to distributing its products in Russia and other countries – allegedly told the outlet that “all operational, production, and logistics facilities of Coca-Cola in Russia are working”.
“We are fully responsible to partners, society, and thousands of our employees in Russia. Our top priority is the safety of our employees,” the spokesperson reportedly said.
The Coca-Cola Company has not denied the statement.
On Thursday, the company released a statement saying it was donating €1m to support the Red Cross movement in Ukraine as well as donations to Red Cross organizations in the neighboring nations of Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.
“While these are our actions today, we will continue to monitor the situation closely,” the company said.
The company did not mention Russia in the statement and called for “peace in the region”.
Meanwhile, neither McDonald’s nor PepsiCo have released statements on Russia’s war on Ukraine.
New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli sent a letter to several major companies including McDonald’s and PepsiCo on Friday calling on them to halt operations in Russia.
He warned the companies that they face “significant and growing legal, compliance, operational, human rights and personnel, and reputational risks” by continuing to do business in the country.
A boycott from them would play a major role in “condemning Russia’s role in fundamentally undermining the international order”, he wrote, according to Reuters.
The letter was also sent to other major businesses including beauty giants Estee Lauder Cosmetics and Coty, confectionery giant Mondelez and FMCG company Kimberly-Clark.
McDonalds has 847 restaurants in Russia with the country accounting for around 9 per cent of its total revenues, according to the company’s website.
For PepsiCo, Russia made up around 4 per cent of its global revenues last year, with the company claiming to be the largest food and beverage manufacturer in the country.
The Independent has reached out to The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and McDonald’s for comment.
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