Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade.
National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) president John Boyd is calling out PepsiCo for claims of all talk and no action when it comes to their approach to discrimination.
The giant food and beverage company is currently under fire for its alleged dismissive treatment of Black farmers along with claims of other environmental issues that include the exploitation of water resources and global plastic pollution, according to a press release.
“As a shareholder of the PepsiCo Corporation, I am calling on PepsiCo Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ramon Laguarta to meet with NBFA leaders and respond to the hardship and realities his company’s latest recent discriminatory act has caused,” said Boyd.
A History Of Exploitation
According to a press release, the PepsiCo company made the decision to no longer use the Aunt Jemima brand due to the racial stereotype associated with the name and packaging in February 2021.
Now, the NBFA has voiced its concerns over the company’s alleged refusal to contract with its members to provide agricultural products that serve as the foundation to the firm’s processes. They also claim that PepsiCo has only offered white farmers the opportunity to share in the company’s years of profits.
The organization even calls the moves to switch brand names and images like the aforementioned Aunt Jemima “superficial responses to public opinion.”
A New Direction
After the murder of George Floyd, NBFA claims the company reached out to them on Juneteenth of 2020 indicating that they wanted to do business with its members.
The association claims the company insisted that the growers share personal information with the brand through its national database. However, just shy of two years later when NBFA growers met the required elements for a potato delivery contract, PepsiCo allegedly decided to pull out.
“PepsiCo had decided to ‘move in a different direction’ that would not include NBFA Black farmer members,” said NBFA. “Our outrage at this kind of bullying discrimination is not just about hurt feelings. Our livelihood and financial stability is at stake when we encounter such blatantly low-level business practices. Some Black farmers have actually lost their farms amid this unethical and inhumane treatment.”
The NBFA is currently seeking legal counsel regarding the verbal commitment to a potato contract with PepsiCo.
However, on the other side, the brand claims it has remained committed to Black representation within the agricultural supply chain.
According to a statement provided to AfroTech, a PepsiCo spokesperson wrote:
“It is incorrect to equate PepsiCo’s decision not to pursue a further relationship with John Boyd with a lack of interest in working with the members of the NBFA or Black growers in general. Unfortunately, despite our repeated requests made of John Boyd, we were unable to meet with or assess the operational capabilities of NBFA members.”
“As part of our Racial Equality Journey, PepsiCo remains committed to increasing Black representation in the agricultural supply chain and working to improve the efficiency, and sustainability of Black growers,” they continued in a statement.
Editorial Note: This piece has been edited on Jan. 29 at 11:12 a.m. CT to provide clarity and reflect statements from PepsiCo.