BEVERAGE-manufacturer Coca Cola Philippines said on Thursday it is open to dialogue with the government amid calls to boycott their products.
The company issued the statement after sugar farmers recently protested the increased importation of a sugar substitute used in the manufacture of soft drinks saying that this was bringing down sugar prices.
“The Coca Cola System has always been and will continue to be a strong partner of the Philippine sugar industry. We are deeply concerned that the misunderstanding on the importation of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has affected our relationship with the sugar industry and the people we proudly serve in the Negros region,” the company said.
“We believe that, at times when there is a disagreement, there are always viable solutions that all sides can amicably reach in an atmosphere of respect and openness. The misguided call to boycott our products is not one of them. We are disappointed that the industry that we have long considered our partners are pushing for this,” it added.
Coca Cola said it is likely that the boycott will affect its workers and consumers along the economic value chain than some of its key partners in the industry.
“The truth is that the loss of sales from a boycott will hit the local communities the hardest.These are not lost profits, so much as they are money taken away from the people who work the most— the sugar farmers themselves, the small micro-entrepreneurs who sell our products, the men and women behind the local businesses that sell us ingredients or packaging and who stock their shelves with our products,” it said.
“In fact, our bottling facility in Negros Occidental produces beverages with 100 percent locally-sourced sugar. Moreover, Coca-Cola is expanding our bottling operations in Bacolod City by adding a new production line worth $17-M,” it added.
Aside from the local sugar industry, Coca Cola said it was able to provide sustainability programs to Filipino communities. In Negros alone, the company’s 5 by 20 Sari Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program, has empowered over 5,000 women micro-entrepreneurs in the province.
The company’s water system has also given the communities access to approximately 25,900 liters of water daily without elevating electricity consumption.