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Coca-Cola and Nestle Are Sucking Us Dry Without Our Even Knowing

Sarah Murphy, The Motley Fool on November 02, 2014

The droughts currently ravaging California, which will likely send food prices soaring down the road, have highlighted the importance of available freshwater supplies. As 17 communities in California are within 60 days of running out of drinking water, the ability of companies like Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and Nestle (NASDAQOTH:NSRGY) to effectively privatize water supplies feels awfully disconcerting. While the rains that just began to fall out west may bring some measure of relief, the fact remains that the world is coming up hard against a water crisis.

In thirsty regions of the world, Coca-Cola and Nestle have repeatedly clashed with communities over the perception that the companies were commandeering scarce water supplies at the expense of small farmers and poor villages. While both companies have deployed aggressive water conservation campaigns, with an understanding that water is an essential input to their businesses, Nestle and Coca-Cola have long faced accusations that they suck vulnerable communities dry in pursuit of their profit motives.

Nestle's chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, believes that water privatization is the key to solving water scarcity issues. Activists see water as a fundamental human right. What should we believe? More importantly, which approach actually improves access to water for the thirstiest among us?

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