Coca-Cola Loses University of Illinois Contract

For Immediate Release
August 6, 2007

Shivali Tukdeo, Coalition Against Coke Contracts +1 503 867 1284 (US)
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +91 98103 46161 (India)

New Delhi (August 6, 2007): The Coca-Cola company has lost its contract with the University of Illinois, giving another boost to the international campaign against Coca-Cola.

Students and faculty at the University of Illinois, a prestigious public university with over 40,000 students, have campaigned for over two years to end the 10-year, exclusive “pouring rights” agreement with Coca-Cola because of the company's unethical practices in India and globally.

The Coca-Cola company has created severe water shortages around its bottling operations across India, and one of its largest bottling plants has been shut down by the government because of pollution.

“This is a tremendous victory for the campus community and sends a strong message to the Coca-Cola company that it must respect human rights and the environment,” said Shivali Tukdeo of the Coalition Against Coke Contracts, a broad coalition of campus and community groups that led the campaign to remove Coca-Cola from campus.

More than 20 colleges and universities in the US, UK and Canada have removed Coca-Cola from campuses as a result of student-led initiatives to apply pressure on the company for its practices in India and internationally.

“We welcome the decision in Illinois to remove Coca-Cola and the action goes a long way in pressuring the Coca-Cola company to do the right thing in India,” said Nandlal Master of Lok Samiti, a community group that is campaigning for the closure of Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Mehdiganj in north India.

In an unusual arrangement, the state of Illinois negotiated new contracts for beverages for the state which covers over 2000 vending machines and 29 facilities across the state, including the University of Illinois and Northeastern University.

The Coalition Against Coke Contracts enjoyed widespread support from the campus and community, and also approached the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and petitioned university administrators to end the contract with Coca-Cola.

The state selection committee included Mr. Mike Bass, Executive Assistant Vice President for Business and Finance at the University of Illinois. Mr. Bass admitted that financial considerations were not the only criteria used for rejecting the contract with Coca-Cola.

“The decision from Illinois is a clear message to Coca-Cola that the campaign will continue to take a toll on its profits and image until it gets serious about addressing the concerns in India,” said Amit Srivastava of India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization that worked closely with the Coalition Against Coke Contracts at the University of Illinois.

For more information, visit India Resource Center and Coalition Against Coke Contracts.


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