MEXICO CITY – A consumer-protection organization in Mexico accused The Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsico Inc. of seeking to position themselves in Mexican schools to compensate for their soft drinks no longer being sold in U.S. educational centers.
The president of the EPC organization, Alejandro Calvillo, said in a communique that in the United States the soft drink industry agreed to remove its high-calorie beverages from schools in 2006 in response to pressure from a number of civil organizations, attorneys and health professionals.
“By contrast in Mexico, soft drink companies have developed strategies to position themselves more solidly inside schools with programs like Coca-Cola’s Well-Being Movement and Pepsico’s Live Healthy,” Calvillo said.
He said that these companies also establish “exclusive agreements with student cooperatives providing benefits in money or in kind to administrators.”
The activist said that “Coca-Cola is using a double standard with Mexican kids. While in the United States it is removing drinks with a high calorie content, in Mexico it is launching programs “apparently promoting physical activity that are really seeking to position the brand even more strongly among girls and boys.”
EPC said that Mexico is the country with the highest per-capita consumption of soft drinks in the world and where Coca-Cola has 12 percent of its worldwide sales.
The organization recalled that in Mexico 18 state legislatures have approved laws mandating the removal of junk food from schools, but the soft drink industry has managed to avoid their application. EFE