Mondelez CEO explains why the snack giant is still doing business in Russia

Since the beginning of the Ukrainian war In February, major food and beverage companies such as Heineken and Starbucks (SBUX) cut all ties with Russia.

but at least a large snack company continue to do business in the country. Mondelez International CEO Dirk Van de Put said on a recent episode of “Andy Selwell’s Influencer” that the company retains 3,000 employees in Russia and works with 30,000 suppliers there.

“We found it would be a somewhat harsh decision to leave overnight,” Vanderput told Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief. “And we decided, it’s better to see what happens and not support the war in any way possible.”

When the invasion began earlier this year, companies from around the world either stopped or scaled back all operations in Russia in a show of solidarity with Ukraine. To date, more than 1,000 companies have stopped or scaled back operations in Russia, according to the Yale School of Management. These include big companies like consulting giant McKinsey, Salesforce (CRM) and Reebok.

For its part, Mondelez issued a statement earlier this year claiming it was scaling back non-essential operations in Russia. But the company also said it would continue to deliver food to the country.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 29: Dirk Van de Put, Chairman and CEO of Mondel•z International, participates in the annual Milken Study on April 29, 2019 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills Panel discussion during Institute Global Conference, California.  (Photo by Michael Kovacs/Getty Images)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – APRIL 29: Dirk Van de Put, Chairman and CEO of Mondel•z International, attends the Annual Milken on April 29, 2019 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA Panel discussion during the Institute’s global conference. (Photo by Michael Kovacs/Getty Images)

“We sell chocolates and cookies. In some countries, cookies are considered part of the normal diet,” explains Vanderpump. “[In] In many countries, cookies are a breakfast item. So we do think that we deliver to the average consumer in Russia. “

Mondelez has come under fire from Eastern European activists since invading Ukraine debate The company should completely cut ties with Russia. Earlier this year, some of the company’s employees criticized it for promoting “Batman” Oreo cookies in the country, according to internal communications reviewed and reported by Reuters.

But van der Putt said Mondelez has little business in Russia.

“We have stopped making any investments in the country, no more capital investments. We don’t do any advertising,” van der Putt said. “From a supply chain perspective, we’re making this country completely independent. If things get worse, we may have to make other decisions.”

So far, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had some impact on Mondelez’s business. Last quarter, the company reported that the war cost the company $145 million in property damage and other expenses.

Still, Vanderput insists the company is persevering despite the setbacks.For example, the company reopened one of the In summer, a potato chip factory outside Kyiv was damaged.

“In the special situation in Russia, we also have important operations in Ukraine,” Vanderput said. “So, two of our factories there were attacked and partially destroyed, and we are rebuilding those factories; our employees have returned to work in Ukraine.”

Despite the damage to its food plants, Vanderpump said Mondelez had not suffered any casualties as a result of the conflict.

He also said the company had helped Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.

“It also happens that a lot of people are fleeing the country, and it’s unbelievable that our people in Poland welcome our employees in their houses,” Vanderput said. “So, our employees in other countries are there for our Ukraine. I was impressed by how much help the staff provided.”

Headquartered in Chicago, Mondelez International is a multinational food and snack company with operations in more than 80 countries. In 2021, its global net income totaled $28.7 billion, and some of its subsidiaries include Oreo, Sour Patch Kids candy, Clif Bar & Company and Toblerone.

Dirk Van de Put became CEO of Mondelez International in 2017 and Chairman in 2018. Previously, he was CEO of frozen food company McCain Foods and worked for Coca-Cola and Mars. The company he is Belgian.

Dylan Croll is a reporter and researcher at Yahoo Finance.follow him on twitter @CrollonPatrol.

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