As global companies start to target some of the world’s poorest countries, with either flat-lining or declining demand at home, concerns have been raised about the developing country’s health and their communities. Charlotte Reid has more.
Global food and drink companies are now targeting the world’s poorest countries as the markets in developed countries become oversaturated, but it is affecting health and the structure of the country.
Companies like Coca-Cola have been looking at investment opportunities in Africa, with Reuters reporting that the company wanted to double its investment in Africa by the end of 2010, whilst Nestle has launched a floating supermarket in the Amazon.
The reason for looking towards the developing world was explained in African business title How We Made It Into Africa. Coca-Cola told them that they are offering Africa’s middle class the products that rich countries already have and can now offer consumers products that they can afford.
Likewise, The New York Times reported that cigarette companies are looking to recruiting new customers in developing countries where public health campaigns are less established and education about the effects of smoking is lower. This despite the fact tobacco causes 1:10 adults deaths in the world each year (WHO).
Changing the lifestyle of developing countries to reflect those of richer countries has caused alarm amongst health campaigners. This concern was highlighted in a September report by the United Nations which showed that in 2008, 36 million people died from non-communicable diseases. These deaths were as a result of lifestyle diseases and include conditions like diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases. This counts for 63% of the 57 million global deaths that happened in 2008.
The UN report says that in the developing world international communities have focused on diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, these are referred to as communicable diseases. But globally there has been a rise in deaths from diabetes and cancers.
However, there have been cases where brands developing their presence outside of the northern hemisphere have backfired. When Coca-Cola was introduced in India it was hit amongst farmers who were using the fizzy drink as a pesticide.
The developing world is also being used by foreign investors to help them invest in water. Estimates from the Oakland Institute say that between 2009 and 2010 the increase in foreign investment in Mali’s arable land was 60%.
The foreign investors who are trying to figure out their own water shortages have little consideration for the local community’s access to water as it threatens the Niger River and the lives of the African people.
So it seems to be that for the developed and rich countries to save themselves they are turning to developing countries to use their precious resources without any consideration that we as a planet are in all this together.
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Picture source: Tina Li