3 Iconic US Beverage Companies Are Pausing Business In Russia

For many businesses worldwide, Russia's invasion of Ukraine meant one thing: morally they could no longer do business with the Eastern European nation. As NBC News reports, that has translated to freezing transactions, shutting down operations entirely, or at the very least scaling them back in solidarity with Ukrainian citizens.

For some American companies, suspending business in Russia was an immediate decision; but for others (including McDonald's, Starbucks, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola) it took pressure from the public for them to make a move. A spreadsheet compiled by Yale University professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his research team made headlines for calling attention to the companies that were still conducting business as normal, and people began advocating for a boycott against the standout brands (via Washington Post).

Many took to Twitter to spread the word, hashtagging #BoycottCocaCola and #BoycottPepsi, and sharing a list of products to avoid buying. Actor Sean Penn, who is filming a documentary on the Ukraine invasion, explained the reason for this in a tweet: "American citizens have a very safe & simple way to stand with Ukraine. Any among us can suspend our purchases of their products & ask our friends to consider doing the same." In light of the criticism, McDonald's, followed by Starbucks, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola, announced they would be halting business with Russia, according to The Washington Post.

Starbucks and Pepsi will still pay Russian employees

Announced in an open letter to the company, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson stated that it would immediately shut down store operations and cease all shipments of Starbucks products to Russia. "We condemn the horrific attacks on Ukraine by Russia and our hearts go out to all those affected," Johnson wrote in the letter. The CEO went on to mention that despite Starbucks being closed down in Russia, its licensed partner "will provide support to the nearly 2,000 partners in Russia who depend on Starbucks for their livelihood."

PepsiCo, for whom this is the second call for a boycott from Twitter in 2022, has paused sales on all beverages except baby formula, baby food, milk, and dairy-based products. The beverage giant made a similar decision to continue paying employees; "We will also continue to support the livelihoods of our 20,000 Russian associates and the 40,000 Russian agricultural workers in our supply chain as they face significant challenges and uncertainty ahead," PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta wrote in a now public email originally sent to PepsiCo associates.

In a much more brief statement shared by CNN Business, Coca-Cola followed suit, condemning the attacks on Ukraine and announcing it would be "suspending its business in Russia" but would continue to assess the situation in case things change.