We depend on a reliable supply of agricultural ingredients, and by accelerating our investment in sustainable agriculture, we are working to support farmers and their families along with our company and shareowners. As a large commercial buyer of sugar and with Brazil as one of our top three sugar sourcing countries, we have an especially important role in supporting such positive change.
Central to this change is first a clear understanding of our supply chain and its impacts on communities. In Brazil, where sugar production is part of so many communities, we must understand the social, environmental and human rights dimensions and convey those clearly to our suppliers. The company’s Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles outline these expectations and are helping to move us toward greater transparency across our agricultural supply chain.
Today, we are releasing a third-party study on child labor, forced labor and land rights in the sugar sector of Brazil. The study reflects more than a year of input and discussion with sugar mills, key Coca-Cola sugar suppliers, bottling partners, communities, civil society organizations and other partners. This work is part of our broader commitment to improve visibility across our supply chain and mitigate risks by working with third parties to publish due diligence studies across our 28 top sugar-sourcing countries by 2020.
The Brazil sugar study included visits to 21 of the 30 mills supplying Coca-Cola, more than 100 stakeholder interviews and 120 farm visits, and discussion with nearly 1,000 farmworkers. The study provides tremendous insight on Coca-Cola’s supply chain, the sugar sector and where we need to collectively make progress.
Based on the findings, we have identified some key areas where we can act to help improve outcomes. We will do so in the context of implementing our sustainable sourcing commitment, which is founded on principles that protect the environment, uphold workplace rights, and build more sustainable communities.
In sugar, we are working with a variety of stakeholders, and were pleased to co-host a convening on sustainable sugar with Bonsucro in October 2015 with more than 20 civil society, government and private sector representatives. Participants provided useful feedback on the summary of the initial study findings and shared their vision. Issues, such as land rights, child labor, forced labor and the environment require innovative coalitions across sectors. Industrywide collaboration is also essential to this approach. We were proud to receive the 2015 Bonsucro Sustainability Award for Buyers Supporting Transformational Change, and recognition of the Coca-Cola system’s continued efforts in the sugarcane sector.
There is still much more work to be done. And, we will continue to do our part to be an advocate for positive change and design action-oriented solutions. This will involve sustained engagement with our supply chain partners and other key stakeholders. Holding ourselves and our suppliers to high sourcing standards allows us to support sustainable agriculture for the long-term benefit of not only for company and stakeholders, but for farmers and communities.
Pedro Massa is shared value director for Coca-Cola Brazil.