Coca Cola in India Case

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Case Study – Coke in India
Adapted by Lesley Fleischman from:
Hills, Jonathan and Welford, Richard. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management. 12, 168–177 (2005)

August
2003







October
2003




Coke has 44 wholly owned and franchise owned bottling plants in India Indian NGO finds that Coke and Pepsi products bottled in India contain pesticides. Immediate impact on Coke stock price.
Coke threatened legal action over allegations.
Indian government tests confirm findings.

Coke hires PR firm, develops strategy to deflect media attention away Escalating community protests at bottling plants, demonstrations, hunger strikes, etc.

December
2003

February
2004
March
2004










June 2004





September
2004




October
2004





February
2005




April 2005




May 2005




Ordered by Indian court to stop drawing groundwater for its bottling plant in Plachimada, Kerala
Judge ruled that no power to allow a private party to extract such a huge quantity of groundwater
Protesters claim that Coke water use was reducing agricultural yields Coke cited lack of rainfall, not their operations, as cause of crop declines Parliamentary committee finds high amounts of pesticide residue in Coke and Pepsi products bottled in India

Not illegal, Indian safety standards weak
Coke application for new bottling plant in Plachimada denied by local authorities because of groundwater use and wastewater
Pepsi had operations in same region, no similar denial
Coke works with local and national authorities to reassess its waste treatment Denied that its operations in Plachimada using too much groundwater, but committed to using ‘advanced rainfall harvesting technology’ to help replenish the groundwater after a 60% decrease in rainfall over the previous 2 years

Indian environmental groups launch campaign against Coke and Pepsi Increasing local opposition at bottling plants
Protests against Coke in U.S.
Protests end in violence at Coke plant in Mehdiganj
“a hedge fund had been launched with an investment strategy of shorting shares of companies with which it took issue. The London-based fund’s first target was Coke.” Campaigns to cancel contracts with Coke at U.S. universities UK trade union, Unison, joins protest against Coke

High Court of Kerala ruled that Coke can extract up to 500000 litres of water per day from common groundwater resources at its Plachimada facility in southern India Coke cited rainwater, and claimed that a nearby Indian brewery, which they said used more water than Coke’s Plachimada plant, had been left alone by activists Protests at Coke annual meeting

Opposition by NGOs, local communities, and environmentalists to Coke franchisee bottling plant proposal to set up a soft-drinks unit in the Gangaikondan village of Tirunelveli district in southern Tamil, claimed plant would deplete and contaminate groundwater, and draw from the Tamiraparani River

June 2005










Local council reluctantly renewed the license for Coke’s bottling facility at Plachimada for three months with 13 conditions. Coke rejected the three-month conditional license, describing it as a violation of a High Court order. On 9 June around 700 community members and supporters marched to the Coke factory in Plachimada, Kerala, to demand plant be permanently shut down. Protesters were met by a large cordon of police officers, and close to 500 people were arrested. NGOs reiterated that the community in Plachimada had experienced severe water shortages since Coke started operations in the area, and the remaining groundwater as well as soil had been polluted as a result of Coke’s bottling operations. The Wall Street Journal (7 June) ran a front page article on Coke in India and noted that while NGOs have flagged some serious issues, such as Coke’s onetime practice of giving away waste material to local farmers...
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