Exposed: How Coke, Pepsi Fuel Bitter Injustices in Global Sugar Industry

Poor and indigenous communities across the world are being robbed of their land by corporations that provide sugar to food and drink giants, a practice that is fueled by the complicity and inaction of transnational corporations like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, Oxfam reveals in a report released Wednesday.

The booming global sugar trade, which produced 176 million tons of sugar last year and is worth $47 billion, is shifting towards large-scale agribusiness at the expense of small farming, the report, titled Sugar Rush: Land rights and the supply chains of the biggest food and beverage companies, finds.

The 31 million hectares used to grow sugar across the globe, most of it in the developing world, is rampant with land grabs, in which local residents are forcibly evicted, often without compensation, to make way for larger corporate farms, the report finds. In many cases, sugar corporations become involved in armed land conflicts, including using their own private militias to force farmers off their land.

“At least 4m hectares of land have been acquired for sugar production in 100 large-scale land deals since 2000, although given the lack of transparency around such deals, the area is likely to be much greater, the report reads. “In some cases, these acquisitions have been linked to human rights violations, loss of livelihoods, and hunger for small-scale food producers and their families.”