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Reuters: Oreos manufacturer Mondelez overhauls Russian operations amid boycott, protests

In Europe
February 17, 2024

The US-based food manufacturer Mondelez, which owns a variety of well-known brands including Oreo and Cadbury, has opted to revamp its Russian operation in the face of boycotts and shareholder pressure, Reuters reported on Feb. 16, citing internal documents.

Mondelez was added Ukraine’s list of “international sponsors of war” in May 2023 for continuing operations in Russia. The international sponsor of war list is designed to be “a powerful reputational tool” to encourage the exit of international business from Russia and reduce Moscow’s financial ability to continue its war against Ukraine, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) explains on its website.

After considerable opposition from the general public and shareholders, Mondelez stopped advertising in Russia, but has not ceased operations. Documents seen by Reuters show that Mondelez appointed a new general manager to head its Russian business and has sought to characterize its operations there as a “standalone organization.”

Mondelez has three factories in Russia, according to Reuters. The last press release on the Mondelez Russia corporate page was on Feb. 15, 2022.

In response to questions from Reuters, Mondelez said that “effective at year-end 2023, we have stood up our local business to operate more independently.”

“Products sold in Russia are now produced and distributed locally, with no imports of finished goods from Europe into Russia or exports from Russia into Europe.”

Food products do not fall under international sanctions, and Mondelez previously defended its decision to stay in Russia on the grounds that it provides “shelf-stable products that are daily staples for ordinary people.”

Removing them “would mean cutting off part of the food supply for many families who have no say in the war.”

Mondelez has acknowledged that the war impacts its business.

“We might also face questions or negative scrutiny from stakeholders about our operations in Russia despite our role as a food company and our public statements about Ukraine and Russia,” Mondelez said in its annual report in February 2024.

Other well-known international food companies such as Nestle have also continued their operations in Ukraine. Nestle was added to Ukraine’s list of “international sponsors of war” in November 2023.

Read also: Ukraine’s effort to isolate Russia’s economy through ‘International Sponsors of War’ list

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