Coca-Cola, PepsiCo to Stop Selling Drinks, Suspend Operations in Russia

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
March 9, 2022 Updated: March 9, 2022

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are suspending their operations in Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, the beverage companies announced on Tuesday.

The companies join a host of other leading U.S. brands in boycotting the country in recent days as a sign of solidarity with the former Soviet nation.

Starbucks also announced Tuesday that it is pulling the plug on its business in Russia while condemning the “horrific attacks on Ukraine by Russia.”

“Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine,” Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “We will continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve.”

The company, which operates several bottling plants in Russia, did not provide further details regarding its decision.

In a regulatory filing, Coca-Cola said its business in Russia and Ukraine contributed about 1 to 2 percent of the company’s net operating revenue in 2021.

PepsiCo, which has been operating in Russia for more than 60 years, cited the “horrific events occurring in Ukraine” as the reason behind the suspension of soft drink sales and capital investments in Russia.

“Pepsi-Cola entered the market at the height of the Cold War and helped create common ground between the United States and the Soviet Union,” the company said. “However, given the horrific events occurring in Ukraine, we are announcing the suspension of the sale of Pepsi-Cola, and our global beverage brands in Russia, including 7Up and Mirinda. We will also be suspending capital investments and all advertising and promotional activities in Russia.”

The company said that it will support the livelihoods of its 20,000 Russian associates and 40,000 Russian agricultural workers in its supply chain and will continue to sell other essential products such as milk and other dairy products as well as baby food for humanitarian reasons.

PepsiCo added that it is continuing to provide aid on the ground to assist Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries and ramping up its production of foods and beverages in those countries to meet the growing demand.

It is also donating a total of $4 million to the Red Cross in Poland, World Vision in Romania, the World Food Program, World Central Kitchen, and Save the Children, and continues to match up to $1 million raised from its employees through its Gift Matching Campaign.

Pepsi generated $3.4 billion of revenue in Russia in 2021, or roughly 4 percent of its total sales of $79 billion.

Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse chain in the world, also followed suit.

“We continue to watch the tragic events unfold and, today, we have decided to suspend all business activity in Russia, including shipment of all Starbucks products,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson wrote in a letter to stores Tuesday. “Our licensed partner has agreed to immediately pause store operations and will provide support to the nearly 2,000 partners in Russia who depend on Starbucks for their livelihood.”

McDonald’s also announced on March 8 that it will temporarily close 850 stores in Russia but will continue paying its 62,000 employees in the country, and its Ronald McDonald House Charities will continue to operate.

The announcements come after both the burger chain and Coca-Cola came under pressure to stop operations in Russia amid an international boycott in the wake of the Moscow-led invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

A host of other businesses across the United States and the rest of the world have announced similar actions and condemned President Vladimir Putin’s actions.

On Tuesday, amid mounting pressure from lawmakers, President Joe Biden announced that the United States is banning Russian oil imports, stopping about 500,000 barrels per day of new crude shipments from entering American seaports.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.