New #CokeLeak: Coca-Cola’s Policy Priorities

Kyle Pfister
Published in
3 min readOct 18, 2016

Surprise! Your friendly, neighbor soda company is actually lobbying against your health and environment protections.

A recent leak of Coca-Cola’s executive emails uncovered the February & March 2016 lobbying priorities for Coca-Cola Europe. The soda company categorizes its priorities into three buckets: “Fight Back”, “Prepare”, or “Monitor” based on a policy’s impact on their sales and its likelihood to pass. The policy that makes the biggest impact and is the most likely: increased soda taxes.

No wonder they’re fighting soda taxes so hard.

Coca-Cola Europe “Radar Screen of EU Public Policies” (Monthly Issue Update: February & March 2016)

The author of the report is Sophia Chrysopoulou, Senior Manager for EU Government Relations with Coca-Cola Europe. She serves on the Public Affairs and Communications (PAC) team.

Her role is to:

“manage the monitoring of EU public policy developments, help develop efficient and effective advocacy strategies, and support outreach and lobbying activities on EU policy-making and legislation of strategic importance for our Company.”

so the Public Affairs and Communications team can:

“remain focused on our mission to promote, shape and protect the reputation of Coca-Cola across Western Europe, and continue to deliver data driven campaigns to earn trust across all audiences.”

Jane Lawrie, Public Affairs and Communications Director for Coca-Cola Europe (7/22/15)

Besides having a cross-hairs logo that could’ve been designed by Dr. Evil, the report categorizes its policy interests into five agendas: Health & Consumers (red), Taxation (yellow), Environment (green), Trade & Competition (blue), and Corporate Social Responsibility (orange, I believe).

The policies listed in the active “Fight Back” category include:

  • (Taxation) New or increased product taxes in Member States
  • (Environment) Disruptive/unfair Extended Producer Responsibility (EPF) schemes

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a strategy designed to promote the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of the products.

  • (Health) Discriminatory nutrient profiles or claims
  • (Environment) Increased collection and recycling targets
  • (Environment) EU scheme for deposit systems
  • (Environment) Refillable quotas

The policies listed in the “Prepare” category for Coca-Cola include:

  • (Environment) Restrictions on use of plastics packaging
  • (Health) Advertising Restrictions for Sweet Beverages
  • (Health) Advertising restrictions for HFSS (high fat, sugar, salt) foods
  • (Health) Discriminatory nutrition labeling schemes
  • (Health) Ban of advertising to children >12yrs
  • (Health) EU definition of children >12yrs
  • (Environment) Restrictions of bottled water
  • (Health) Mandatory BPA labeling
  • (Health) EU ban of BPA
  • (Health) National restrictions on BPA
  • (Health) Plain packaging for “unhealthy” products
  • (Health) Restrictive health plan packages
  • (Taxation) EU initiatives on corporate taxes
  • (Taxation) Health-related VAT system
  • (Health) Misleading nano labelling provisions
  • (Health) Restrictive novel foods regulation
  • (Health) National restrictions on caffeine
  • (Health) EU restrictions on caffeine
  • (Health) No or delayed allulose approval

Coke doesn’t deserve public health’s trust

Coca-Cola appears to be fighting or preparing to fight against broad legislation to protect public health and the environment. They’re fighting against protecting kids from soda advertising, nutrition labeling, labeling BPA, packaging regulation, restricting plastic usage, soda taxes, and paying for the environmental impact of its products. Sounds like an unhealthy agenda.

Does this policy agenda protect Coca-Cola’s reputation and build your trust?

I wonder what Coca-Cola North America’s policy agenda looks like… let me guess the first priority: fight soda taxes.



Kyle Pfister

Founder of Ninjas for Health, a public health innovation team. Join the movement at