PepsiCo ‘reluctant’ to pull out of Russia but exploring options amid mounting pressure, says report

PepsiCo is facing mounting pressure from consumers, politicians and other Western businesses to take a stand over the invasion of Ukraine

Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 08 March 2022 20:47
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PepsiCo has started exploring options for its Russian operations but executives are still said to be “reluctant” to join the hundreds of other major companies pulling out of the country, according to a report.

Sources told the Wall Street Journal that the soft drinks giant doesn’t want to cease its operations in Russia because of concerns around the toll this would take on both its thousands of Russian employees and its consumers who rely on the company for essentials like milk and baby formula.

Instead, the company is said to be mulling the idea that it will write off the value of the unit in Russia.

The report comes as PepsiCo is facing mounting pressure from consumers, politicians and other Western businesses to take a stand over the invasion of Ukraine.

While around 250 companies have ceased operations in Russia in the 13 days since Vladimir Putin launched his assault on Ukraine, PepsiCo has remained silent and has taken a business as usual approach to its business in Russia.

The hashtag #BoycottPepsi has been circulating on social media over the last few days as questions continue to mount around why the huge corporation has failed to join other Western companies in protesting the war.

PepsiCo is also among the few major companies yet to speak out condemning Mr Putin’s invasion.

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli sent a letter to several major companies including PepsiCo on Friday calling on them to halt operations in Russia.

He warned the companies that they face “significant and growing legal, compliance, operational, human rights and personnel, and reputational risks” by continuing to do business in the country.

A boycott from them would play a major role in “condemning Russia’s role in fundamentally undermining the international order”, he wrote, according to Reuters.

While PepsiCo is said to be concerned about its employees and consumers, experts said that staying put in Russia can actually do more harm than good to the Russian people.

Yale University Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who has released a list of major companies who continue to operate in Russia, told The Washington Post that such companies are misguided if they think they are helping their Russian employees by keeping business up and running.

He said that there is no “win-win solution” if they remain, whereas causing the Russian economy to collapse could help to prevent the situation escalating to “open warfare” in the country.

“This is one step away from open warfare. This is a last-ditch effort,” he said.

“You’re helping those workers by not having [the West] dropping bombs and shooting them.”

However, for PepsiCo, Russia makes up around 4 per cent of its global revenues and the company claims to be the largest food and beverage manufacturer in the country.

The company did not return a request for comment fromThe Independent.

Other major companies including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have also come under fire for their deafening silence over Russia’s attack and refusal to respond by ceasing operations in the country in recent days.

On Tuesday, McDonald’s finally bowed to pressure and announced that it would shutter all 850 stores and pause all operations in Russia, citing the “unspeakable suffering to innocent people” in Ukraine.

Now, all eyes are turning to the likes of PepsiCo to see if the soft drinks giant will also follow suit.

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