The French group Bonduelle officially denied to AFP on Monday that it had distributed food parcels to Russian soldiers, accompanied by a message to wish them a “quick victory” in Ukraine, citing a “fake” on social networks.
Internet users on Twitter this weekend called for a boycott of the canned and frozen vegetable specialist’s products after two photos showing packaging with the Bonduelle logo were broadcast on Russia’s main social network VKontakte.
These images show a person in uniform holding a box of branded cans, along with a greeting card and this message in Russian: “Dear Soldier, Happy New Year! We wish you all the best and a quick victory!”.
“We do not distribute packages to soldiers,” the French company assured AFP on Monday, referring to “a fake”.
On Saturday, the group assured in a press release that “this information and the statements attributed to the company Bonduelle and its management were (completely wrong)”.
On the other hand, the group confirmed its participation in Operation Charity Baskets. Organized by the Russian Food Bank, it aims to collect produce for the poorest and “has no connection to the army,” according to a Bonduelle spokeswoman.
A now-deleted post on the VKontakte account in the Russian city of Yartsevo claimed that 10,000 packages had been sent to the soldiers.
Bonduelle also denies the comments attributed in this publication to his Director General in Russia, Ekaterina Eliseeva, who also expressed her desire for a “quick victory” in Ukraine.
Based on an article in the Russian edition of Forbes, some netizens have accused her of ties to the FSB, the Russian security services where, according to the magazine, she trained as a translator in the 1990s.
Evidence emerges that the head of the @Bonduelle_Group in Russia 🇷🇺 graduated from the FSB Academy 🇷🇺 and is on the board of RosCongress – an organization that exists to spread the ideology of Putin worldwide.
It has been alleged that the company is shipping food to Russian troops. pic.twitter.com/bAwsHNcVFV
—Jason Jay Smart (@officejjsmart) January 2, 2023
Bonduelle is one of the few French companies that has continued its activities in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, like Leroy Merlin and Auchan (Mulliez) or even Lactalis.
“The Bonduelle Group continues its activities in Russia with the sole aim of ensuring access to food for the population of Russia and neighboring countries,” he affirmed on Saturday.
However, in March he announced the suspension of “all investment projects” in Germany.
The French group generates 5% of its annual turnover (150 million euros) in Russia, where it has three factories and employs 1,000 people, and in neighboring countries such as Georgia and Armenia.