Earlier this year, my colleagues in the US published a list of the health and wellbeing partnerships, research and individuals funded there, dating back to 2010. In October, I committed to do the same and today we have published the details of what we have funded in Great Britain.
I believe this is the right thing to do. I also think it is important to understand why we have decided to share this information with anyone who wishes to see it.
Several years ago, Coca-Cola made a public commitment to play a role in addressing the challenge of obesity. Here in Great Britain, our strategy has two elements. Firstly to help people reduce the sugar and calories they consume from our drinks and make informed choices, and secondly to support people in leading more active lifestyles.
Since 2010 we have invested more than £30 million to help our consumers reduce their sugar and calorie intake. We’ve reformulated many of our drinks, introduced smaller packs, put colour-coded nutrition labelling on all of our bottles and cans and spent more on marketing our no sugar drinks. This work continues.
We have also funded partnerships and research with expert third parties to improve our understanding of the role our drinks play in people’s diets and the benefits of physical activity. I acknowledge that some people have questioned whether this work is appropriate and sufficiently open.
That’s why today we are publishing a list of the partnerships and research activities we fund in Great Britain, dating back to 2010. This is the start of a process to share this information globally and the information published will be updated annually.
The company has also begun a review of the global protocols we will follow when making future funding decisions. These will be designed to ensure the projects we fund are relevant and credible. I want this information to be available to anyone who wishes to see it, which is why we are posting it online today.
The total amount of funding we have provided in GB since 2010 is £9,328,095.
Most of the funding in Great Britain goes to our partnership programmes with charities, public sector and for-profit organisations. These are local community projects designed to have the most positive impact possible in the communities in which they run:
- Coca-Cola Great Britain was a founding partner of Special Olympics Great Britain, and since 1978 we have been helping to raise awareness of the charity and its work to support people with an intellectual disability to have fun, keep fit and build friendships through sport.
- StreetGames operates in the most deprived 20 per cent of areas in the UK and 87 per cent of its participants are from disadvantaged communities. With our support, StreetGames is helping young people to build their confidence, be more active and change their lives and communities for the better.
- In Great Britain, we have made a commitment to help get one million people more active by 2020 and developed a community initiative, in partnership with local authorities, to make this happen. ParkLives provides fun, free activity sessions in parks in the heart of local communities in Birmingham, Newham (London), Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow and Nottingham.
Together, these three partnerships account for £5,820,381 and 62 per cent of the total funding we have published today.
Most of the scientific research we conduct is designed to inform our product innovation - for example the development of a reformulated drink using a new ingredient or containing less sugar and calories. People expect food and drink companies to conduct R&D and therefore this work is not included in what we have published today.
However, we also want to understand better the role our drinks play in people’s diets and consumer behaviour, including physical activity. This is not because we think physical activity is the only, or even the most effective way to address obesity. We know diet and nutrition is important, which is why we have invested significantly in reformulating many of our drinks to reduce their sugar and calorie content. You can read about all the actions we’ve taken over the past three years here.
We have therefore funded research into understanding the effectiveness of sweeteners which we use in our drinks, as well as into physical inactivity.
When we do fund such research, the recipients of our funding have full control over the work they do, which is objective and independent, and we expect them to disclose funding sources in any publication.
Lastly, we also listen and learn from expert individuals and organisations. We work with leaders in their field to ensure we get insights based on the best scientific evidence available.
I hope this provides some clarity regarding the research we have funded and the organisations we work with.
We are committed to maintaining this level of transparency and will do so by updating this list every year and sharing on this website in early 2016 the new global protocols we are developing to guide this work.
If you have any questions about this then please do get in touch.
Jon Woods is General Manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain & Ireland
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