Part of the House of Representatives is dismayed because coffee and tea makers Douwe Egberts and Pickwick are still active in Russia. “I think this is a good reason to review all government coffee contracts,” CDA MP Derk Boswijk emphasizes to this news site. He calls it “unprecedented” that the coffee giant is still active in Russia.
The Christian Democrat responds with his statements to an interview with the CEO of the parent company of coffee brand Douwe Egberts and Pickwick, JDE Peet’s. The group is not hesitating to withdraw from Russia, CEO Fabien Simon told The Wall Street Journal. He believes that tea and coffee are essential foodstuffs that Russians should also be able to buy, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
D66, GroenLinks and CDA find his position incomprehensible. D66 member Alexander Hammelburg: “It is very painful that there are still Dutch companies trading in a country that is violently plunging Ukraine into the horrors of this war.” Boswijk argues: “If the Russian consumer hardly notices and can even continue to drink good coffee from a Western manufacturer, it is not surprising that it will continue to be a protracted war. seize’.
CEO Simon had correctly told the American business newspaper that it will be “probably a protracted war”, which, according to him, “means that we have to find a long-term solution”. “We probably didn’t say what people wanted to hear, but our approach is authentic and honest,” said the JDE Peet’s foreman.
His statements go down the wrong way with MPs. “If Derk Boswijk submits a motion to this effect, I will support it,” said GroenLinks MP Tom van der Lee. As a parliamentarian, he does not like calls for a consumer boycott. “But you can really do something by changing government contracts.” The CDA member submits parliamentary questions on this subject.
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At the request of GroenLinks, Dutch companies with activities in Russia came to the House of Representatives in February to explain this. At that time, parliamentarians also called on those companies to cease activities in Russia. A parliamentary majority supported GroenLinks’ request to organize a hearing with, among others, JDE Peet’s, Philips and Unilever. Those companies were mentioned at the time because they still had activities in Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 – now almost a year and a half ago.
Topman Simon also fears that the nine hundred employees of JDE Peet’s in Russia will be punished if the company leaves the country. He will also remain active in Russia, because business units are likely to be confiscated in the event of a departure, after which a Russian company can obtain them cheaply. According to him, Amsterdam-based JDE Peet’s adheres to all international sanctions against Russia. JDE Peet’s position has led to international criticism, including from its own employees in Ukraine.
Amid all the criticism, the company is renaming one of its more internationally known brands, Jacobs, in Russia. “It’s not risk-free, but it’s similar enough to the existing brand to help consumers navigate the store shelves,” said Simon.
417 million euros
JDE Peet’s did not provide specific sales or profit figures for its Russian activities, which are now shielded from other units as much as possible. But according to The Wall Street Journal data from the Russian tax authorities show that turnover in the country increased by 22 percent last year to the equivalent of 417 million euros. Profits would have increased by 73 percent.
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