This resolution was introduced by Harrington Investments and defended by Nsé Ufot at the 2021 Coca-Cola Shareholders’ meeting on April 20, 2021.
“As the world grapples with COVID-19, many underlying health conditions suspected of making people vulnerable to the pandemic are also associated with elevated dietary intake of sugar: obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney and liver diseases.
Therefore, our Company’s sugary drinks may be associated with two national health epidemics – sugar related illnesses and vulnerability to the pandemic.
Moreover, the pandemic has highlighted issues of disproportionate health impacts of COVID-19 on people of color. The beverage industry has reportedly spent millions of dollars on targeted advertising of sugary drinks to Black, Hispanic, Latino, and Indigenous youth.
With the rise of diabetes in youth, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement a decade ago, calling for a total ban on child-targeted and interactive junk food advertising. Yet our Company continues to market sugary drinks with advertising detrimentally influencing children’s food preferences and health.
Several jurisdictions have banned the sale of junk food and sugary drinks to children and numerous community campaigns are seeking to impose taxes as well as new labeling laws for sugary beverages. In 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association released a joint statement in support of such taxes, potentially increasing risk associated with our Company’s business.
To defend our products, our company has been funding lobbying efforts to preempt local control or restrict regulation.
In contrast, the proponents believe our Company should be part of the solution and should not be pushing sugary beverages through advertising or funding “educational” efforts that shift the blame from poor diet causing obesity to lack of exercise.
Resolved, that shareholders request the board of directors issue a report on Sugar and Public Health, with support from a group of independent and nationally recognized scientists and scholars providing critical feedback on our Company’s sugar products marketed to consumers, especially those Coke products targeted to children and young consumers. Such report to shareholders should be produced at reasonable expense, exclude proprietary or legally privileged information and be published no later than November 1st, 2021 and include an assessment of risks to the company’s finances and reputation associated with changing scientific understanding of the role of sugar in disease causation.”