Kiev has recently designated PepsiCo and Mars, two major American food and beverage companies, as international war sponsors due to their continued business activities in Russia. The Ukrainian National Corruption Prevention Agency (NCPA) made the announcement on Friday, adding these companies to the list it manages. Previously, the NCPA had declared Mondelez International, one of the largest snack companies globally, an “enemy of Ukraine” for the same reason.
The NCPA stated that despite claims of reducing their businesses and suspending advertising and manufacturing in Russia, PepsiCo and Mars continue to operate in the Russian market and pay significant taxes to the Russian government. Additionally, the agency pointed out that these US corporations are actively recruiting new employees in Russia.
It is important to note that the list compiled by the NCPA has no legal power and is primarily a shaming mechanism aimed at tarnishing the reputation of selected companies with significant business interests in Russia. The inclusion or exclusion criteria for the list are not specified.
Ukraine has already added nearly 40 international brands to the list, including Unilever, Xiaomi, Bacardi, Procter & Gamble, Yves Rocher, and Alibaba (the owner of AliExpress). These brands have been accused by Ukraine of demonstrating a reluctance to exit the Russian market.
In regard to Mars, the company had previously announced its intention to halt all advertising, media activity, and investment in Russia following Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. However, Mars continues to sell its products in Russia and even produces them locally. The company’s product range includes popular candy bars and confectionery items such as Bounty, Milky Way, Twix, M&Ms, Skittles, as well as Orbit and Wrigley’s chewing gum. Additionally, Mars is involved in the production of pet food brands like Pedigree, Royal Canin, Whiskas, and Sheba. Having operated in Russia for more than 30 years, Mars remains a prominent player in the country’s market.
Notably, Mars has also announced plans to offer financial support to Ukraine. The company has donated $13.5 million to assist individuals and their pets affected by the conflict. This move has raised concerns among Russian lawmakers, prompting the prosecutor general to initiate an investigation into possible financing of the Armed Forces of Ukraine by Mars.
Similarly, PepsiCo made headlines when it declared that it would cease local production of its flagship soft drink, Pepsi, as well as Mirinda, 7up, and Mountain Dew, in September 2022. The company stated that it would only continue selling essential items in Russia, such as milk, dairy products, infant formula, and baby food. Russia ranks as PepsiCo’s third-largest revenue market, following the United States and Mexico. Over the years, the brand has established more than 20 enterprises in Russia and invested more than $10 billion in its business operations there. Notably, Pepsi was the first American brand to make inroads in Russia back in 1972 when it was still a part of the Soviet Union.
In conclusion, the Ukrainian NCPA has designated PepsiCo and Mars as international war sponsors due to their ongoing business activities in Russia. The agency alleges that despite their claims of reducing operations in Russia, these companies continue to operate in the market, contributing significant taxes to the Russian government. However, it should be noted that the NCPA’s list lacks legal authority and is primarily intended to shame companies with extensive business interests in Russia. The inclusion of PepsiCo and Mars follows the addition of numerous other international brands to the list.