CHICAGO – The multinational snack maker of such brands as Oreo cookies and Toblerone chocolates was challenged at its headquarters in the third most populous US city for still doing business in Russia.
Mondelez International, on Oct. 31, became the latest target of an advocacy campaign by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), which represents more than 100,000 non-profit groups that called on the global snack maker to exit Russia’s market.
The company sign of Mondelez International, a multinational producer of consumer staples, in Chicago’s Fulton Market area on Oct. 31 where a Ukrainian-American advocacy group held a protest that called on the corporation to halt business operations in Russia.
“Trick or treat, Russia must be beat,” several dozen protesters yelled in front of the Nasdaq publicly-traded headquarters of the company in Chicago on Halloween day. “Ukrainian children need peace.”
Ukraine’s consul to Chicago, Serhiy Koledov, holds a placard in protest of snack-maker Modolez International at the company’s headquarters on Oct. 31 for its continuing presence on the Russian market.
As the protesters gathered, office windows of the four-story mostly brick-layered building of the company’s headquarters were drawn and numerous employees, who wouldn’t provide comment, were escorted to their vehicles by private security personnel.
Pavlo Bandriwsky, an Illinois division vice president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, addresses an assembly of protesters at the global headquarters of consumer staples producer Mondelez in Chicago on Oct. 31.
Since Russia escalated the ongoing war on Feb. 24, 2022 by launching an all-out invasion, Mondelez, which also makes Belvita biscuits and Milka chocolates, has refused to exit the Russian markets, unlike other global brands like McDonald’s and Starbucks.
Phone calls placed with Mondelez and an emailed inquiry from Kyiv Post went unanswered.
The Chicago-based company has a designation of “D” on a five-point scale that resembles primary school grades, according to a tracking system implemented by Yale University of the varying degrees to how foreign companies have altered their behavior since the full-scale invasion.
“It is scaling back unspecified non-essential activities in Russia,” the Connecticut-based university says.
Russia’s coffers received more than $61 million in tax revenue last year from Mondelez on top of a net profit of $339 million. Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NAZK), designated the corporation an “international sponsor of war” for providing money to Russia’s national budget.
Some of its employees have called on the corporation’s CEO, Dirk Van De Put, “to stop all business in Russia,” Reuters reported. “An internal memo seen by Reuters shows Nestle has seen an unspecified number of Ukraine employees quit and others bullied on social media for remaining with a company doing business with Russia.”
Pictured is the almost barren, locked lobby of the main entrance to global snack maker Mondelez International in Chicago on Oct. 31 when the local Ukrainian American community staged a protest that called on the publicly-traded company to exit Russia’s market and stop paying tax revenue to the Kremlin’s coffers.
Yet, the food processor, which is known to process high-sugar goods, still sells goods amid the ongoing war against Ukraine, already entering its eighth year.
“We sell chocolate and biscuits. In some countries, the biscuits are considered as part of a normal diet,” Van de Put told Yahoo Finance. “[In] many countries, biscuits are a breakfast item. And so, we do feel that we supply products to the normal consumer in Russia.”
Newly elected UCCA Illinois division head Mariya Dmytri-Dapeniak disagreed in a news release: “We will not sit by and watch Mondelēz profit from hocking ‘healthy snacks’ like Oreo cookies and Milka chocolate in Russia while Ukrainian children die from tax-funded Russian weapons.”
The company’s factory in Ukraine's northeastern region of Sumy was demolished by Russian air attacks in April 2022. After the area was subsequently liberated, Mondelez “restarted manufacturing Milka” chocolates, Andy Hunder, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, told Kyiv Post.
In comparison to the company’s 2022 Russian profits, it stated that “to help the Ukrainian people, we have continued to increase our now $15 million commitment via the Mondelēz International Foundation to support the country, Ukrainian citizens as well as refugees, with cash and in-kind contributions.”
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