Coke Criticised At Shareholder Meeting For Exacerbating Health Issues In American Communities Of Colour

A large group of Coca-Cola red cans stacked in a supermarket in Spain.
B&T Magazine
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A resolution was passed at Coca-Cola’s annual shareholder meeting, held online, calling on the brand to increase their transparency about the role of their products in fuelling health issues among people of colour.

Coke, which is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, was also criticised for drawing back its initial support for voting rights.

Nsé Ufot, Executive Director of the New Georgia Project Action Fund (NGPAF), an organisation focused on the civic participation of underrepresented communities of colour in the state, presented the resolution on behalf of Harrington Investments.

Harrington Investments is a company focused on socially responsible investing and shareholder advocacy.

Usof said, “Georgians are well aware of Coca-Cola in our hometown, and we feel your presence daily.”

“We feel your presence when we see the targeted marketing  to our Black and Brown communities–communities that suffer disproportionately from diabetes, obesity and other diseases linked to sugar consumption.”

“We are also well aware of your presence and power when it comes to the political arena, which has irresponsibly been used to undermine the well-being and fundamental rights of people of color, specifically our constitutionally protected freedom to vote.”

The resolution also made reference to the particular impact of the pandemic on communities of colour.

John Harrington, President & CEO of  Harrington Investments said that “with the pandemic, Coke’s marketing of their sugary products exacerbates an already existing problem.”

“The company needs to address this issue, and address it with third-party and truly independent experts.”

The resolution reads, “as the world grapples with COVID-19, many underlying health conditions suspected of making people vulnerable to the pandemic are also associated with elevated dietary intake of sugar: obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney and liver diseases.”

“Therefore, our Company’s sugary drinks may be associated with two national health epidemics – sugar related illnesses and vulnerability to the pandemic. Moreover, the pandemic has highlighted issues of disproportionate health impacts of COVID-19 on people of color. The beverage industry has reportedly spent millions of dollars on targeted advertising of sugary drinks to Black, Hispanic, Latino, and Indigenous youth.”

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