Pepsi Challenge: Shareholders Call for Report on AIDS Impact

April 24, 2003 ( - What do the AIDS epidemic in Africa and soft drink sales have in common? Not much you might think, but then some institutional shareholders of Pepsi are calling on the soft drink giant for proof.

That’s right, on May 7, Pepsi shareholders will get to vote on a call for a report on how the AIDS pandemic will affect the firm’s business in Africa.   Supporters of the measure, which include MMA (Mennonite Mutual Aid) and its MMA Praxis Mutual Funds, want Pepsi to “report on: the effect of the health pandemic on the company’s operations in Sub-Saharan Africa;” and “the Company’s response to the pandemic.”   The resolution calls on the firm to make the report available to shareholders by October 2003.

The rationale appears to be twofold; first that Pepsi’s income could be subject to reduced sales as a direct result of the AIDS pandemic in Africa (a place where the firm says its business is expanding), or alternatively as an indirect result of a public backlash to Pepsi’s “refusal to deal with the issue,” according to Seamus Finn, director of Social Justice for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate U.S. and head of the AIDS Issue Group for the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility.

Supporters of the measure note that, in recent weeks Pepsi has added a new section to its  corporate web site dealing with the issue.   

In addition to MMA, supporters of the measure include the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, School Sisters of Notre Dame Cooperative Investment Fund, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell New Jersey, and ASC Investment Group.