A senior executive at Mondelez International has reportedly claimed the snacks giant has been “singled out” over its presence in Russia.
In recent weeks, the US company has faced criticism and a boycott of its products in the Nordic region.
On Friday (16 June), Reuters said it had seen an internal memo from Vinzenz Gruber, the president of Mondelez’s operations in Europe, in which he insisted the company had been “singled out and treated differently” over the issue.
“If you look in most kitchen cupboards, you will see many products from food and beverage companies that have not exited Russia,” Gruber was said to have written to staff. “If there were boycotts on all brands that have parent companies with activity in Russia, there would be a food supply issue.”
Just Food asked Mondelez to comment on the report but it declined to do so.
The censure in the Nordic markets came in the wake of the publication by Ukraine’s National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption of a list of companies still with assets in Russia. The agency deemed the businesses, which included Mondelez, to be “sponsors of war”.
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In the days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mondelez said it would focus on selling only a “basic offering” of products, scale back “all non-essential activities” in the country, abandon any new capital investment and suspend advertising spending.
On Thursday, days after seeing customers including Norwegian rail operator SJ halt orders, the Milka chocolate maker said it would “continue to reduce our activities” and added it plans to “have the Russia business stand-alone with a self-sufficient supply chain before the end of the year”.
Asked today if Mondelez would look to sell its assets in Russia, a spokesperson pointed Just Food to Thursday’s statement.
Mondelez’s Russian headquarters are in Moscow. The company has a factory producing chewing gum products in Veliky Novgorod, another in Pokrov making chocolate and a third in Sobinka for biscuits. And, as of 2022, Mondelez started importing Milka-branded products into Russia from Belgium.
In its annual report covering the financial period to 31 December, Mondelez provided a detailed assessment of the situation in Russia, noting the country accounted for 4% of the snack maker’s $31.5bn in group net revenue, and Ukraine 0.3%. The business made a net profit of $2.7bn.