They should completely withdraw from Russia, as most others have done. I see some advocating that you can’t say they are financing genocide in Ukraine, but they do. Russia is experiencing a war economy, Jørn Sund-Henriksen tells Nettavisen.
He is the president of the Ukrainian-Norwegian Society of Friends, and speaks for Mondelez International. The American company owns both the Norwegian chocolate manufacturer Freia and the Swedish brand Marabou.
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Call for a boycott of Freya
After Russia launched a large-scale war of aggression against Ukraine on February 24 last year, many Western companies withdrew from Russia, which resulted in huge financial losses. Mondelez refused to do so and continued business as usual. This has caused many people to call for a boycott of the company.
– I don’t buy Freia products, and I hope more people will join the boycott, says Sund-Henriksen, who is also a columnist for Nettavisen.
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It’s been enough
Swedish merchant Mats Kalla had enough of Mondelez. He runs an Ica store in Umeå, Sweden, and on weekends he orders the store’s employees to clean the shelves of all the products from Mondelez.
– They pay taxes to the Russian state. Kala tells Netavisen that the war has been 16 months, and they had time to withdraw.
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In addition to chocolates from Maribo, which is the Swedes’ answer to Freya, he scoured the shelves of Daim, Philadelphia cream cheese, and Oboe, among other things. He hopes this will lead to reactions, and is glad that the measure is also gaining interest in Norway.
Hoping for feedback
– I hope there will be a reaction across Europe. We will not support Putin’s war of aggression. It is reprehensible that they will not withdraw from Russia. I don’t want anyone in Russia to eat our Western goods as long as this war goes on, Kala tells Netavisen.
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to Express Kalla says he hastily decided to implement the boycott at the end of the week. As a trader, he himself feels the aftermath of the war as buying and energy prices increase.
– The prices have gone up so high that I have no chance of increasing the selling price as much. Then I get incredibly frustrated that we have to sell goods from Mondelez, which continues to sell goods in Russia, says Kalla.
He encourages Norwegian consumers to check the packaging of the goods they buy, and to see if the manufacturer is still on the Russian market.
Consumers control that, not merchants. You always have the option of choosing a manufacturer that doesn’t sell the goods in Russia, says Calla.
This is not the first time the Swedish trader has made headlines in Norway. In 2008, he stopped selling cigarettes altogether.
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On June 1st, it’s been 15 years since we stopped selling cigarettes. I’m losing money on that, but you have to be honest and stand up for what you believe in. I haven’t calculated how much I stand to lose by stopping the sale of products from Mondelez, but this is about ending the war in Ukraine, says Calla, adding that he received a lot of positive feedback after he cleaned the shelves of Mondelez products.
Gabriela Olzon is the press officer for the Ica Gruppen in Sweden, and writes in an email to Nettavisen that dealers themselves decide their own assortment.
– Ica Central removed all Russian-made goods from the Central lineup a year ago. According to Mondelez, products for the Swedish market are not produced in Russia, as you write.
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Nettavisen put several questions to Mondelez’s press office. They write that they make it clear that products sold in the Nordic countries are not made in Russia, and that they also do not sell products that are made in the Nordic countries to Russia.
– At the beginning of the war, many of our customers decided not to sell Made in Russia brands, but they continued to sell our products because they are not made in Russia. We respect our customers and have a close dialogue with them in this complex situation, which is not unique to us at Mondelez, the company writes.
They do not answer direct questions about whether they consider criticism of the company justified.
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Russia’s claims do not fit the numbers
Nettavisen previously wrote that, according to the Kyiv School of Economics, Mondelez paid NOK 1.9 billion in taxes to Russia last year, while from 2021 to 2022 its income in the country increased from NOK 10.1 to 14.6 billion. At the same time, in February of this year, they announced that they had contributed NOK 130 million to support Ukraine. Postdoctoral researcher Uliana Gottlieb calls the contribution “petty cash.”
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– At the same time that the corporation contributes billions in taxes to the murders, it provides pittances to the victims, Gottlieb thunders to Netavisen, which he calls “hypocrisy.”
– Regarding the 1.9 billion SEK paid in taxes, I recommend you check this figure (quoted from the KSE website without a source for how it is calculated). You can read more about our positions at Our support for Ukrainewhich summarizes what we are doing to support Ukraine and our overall position on Russia.
Mondelez claims to Nettavisen that the numbers are incorrect, but they did not respond to our inquiry as to which numbers are correct in this case. Nor did they respond to their opinion of the boycott call.
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In conversation with Mondelez
Nettavisen asked Norgesgruppen, Coop and Rema whether they would allow their grocers to remove goods from Mondelez from store shelves. Obviously, all three do not sell Russian-made goods.
– Cooperatives own our stores and bear individual responsibility to store managers and store employees. As far as I know, this has not been a problem, and where we relate to the recommendations made by the authorities, Coop’s director of communications, Harald Christiansen, wrote in an email to Nettavisen.
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He adds that Mondelez herself must answer how they want to deal with their relationship with Russia.
– Rema 1000 has heard the discussion and is in dialogue with our supplier Mondelez on this matter. In early 2022, we revised our entire range and removed items that were made in Russia or with Russian raw materials. Line Aarnes in Rema wrote, via advisor, that we are complying with and will comply with all Norwegian sanctions at all times. Aarnes is the Category and Purchasing Manager.
Kine Søyland, director of communications at Norgesgruppen, writes in an SMS to Nettavisen that merchants who do not want to sell Mondelez products are not a current problem in the food chain.
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