No, Pepsi hasn't changed packaging to avoid boycott calls amid Israel-Gaza conflict

By: Rajini KG
November 8 2023

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
No, Pepsi hasn't changed packaging to avoid boycott calls amid Israel-Gaza conflict

Screenshot of the posts going viral online. (Source: Facebook/X/Screenshots/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Misleading

A Gaza-based bottling unit had changed the design of the Pepsi can locally to showcase Palestinian culture as part of a marketing exercise in August.

Claim ID 892a2217

What's the claim?

Amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, there are growing renewed calls to boycott Israeli products and products sold by companies perceived to be directly or indirectly profiteering from Israel's actions in Palestinian territories. Many people have also called for boycotting companies like Starbucks — for taking action against employees that voiced support to Palestine — and McDonald's — after a regional branch offered meals to the Israeli military, as an ABC News report stated.

In the backdrop of such calls, an image of a can of the popular carbonated beverage Pepsi with customized packaging (different from its usual design) is doing the rounds on social media with the claim that the soft drink company launched a new pro-Palestine design to save their product from being boycotted. A user on X (formerly Twitter) shared the image of the 'pro-Palestine' can with the caption, "The Israeli company PEPSI has changed the design to avoid the boycott and wrote Palestine. Do not fall for this deception. Continue the boycott of both PEPSI and COKE brands." The text on the image read, "Pepsi has Modified It's Product Designs to Feature Palestinian Culture." The post implies that Pepsi is an Israeli company apart from claiming that the company changed the design of its can amid the boycott calls. The post had over 34,000 views and more than 600 likes at the time of publishing. An archived version of the post can be viewed here.

Screenshot of the viral image on X. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

Images of the customized can are being shared by several users on Facebook and TikTok with similar claims. Archived versions of such posts can be found here and here.

Screenshots of the viral claims on Facebook and TikTok.
(Source: Facebook/TikTok/Screenshots/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the claims made in such posts are misleading. 

  • The modified Pepsi can was introduced by a Palestinian bottling manufacturing company that supplies Pepsi in Gaza, and not by PepsiCo Inc, the parent company. The design wasn't rolled out globally and was launched before the current Israel-Hamas conflict started.

  • While PepsiCo does run business in Israel like in many other countries, it is not an Israeli company.

What did we find?

We examined the official website of PepsiCo, the company that owns Pepsi, and came across no press release or images of the viral Pepsi can featuring 'pro-Palestine' messaging. 

Through a reverse image search, we found that the same viral image was shared on Facebook by the community group 'United4Palestine' on August 21. The accompanying caption read, "Pepsi Gaza introduces new designs to its products, showcasing Palestinian culture and heritage." The post also included another picture of the customized Pepsi can.

Screenshot of the United4Palestine Facebook post. (Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

A reverse image search using the customized blue Pepsi can also led us to the Facebook account of 'Yazegi Group for Soft Drink Ltd.' The account had shared an image of the same Pepsi can, as seen in the viral post, in a post uploaded on August 16.

According to the Pepsi Palestine website, Yazegi Group for Soft Drink Ltd, or the Yazegi Group, is a manufacturing and bottling company located in Gaza. Owned by Mahmoud Al-Yaziji, it is one of the franchises that produces Pepsi in Palestine.

The caption shared with the Facebook image stated that the Yazegi Group had released two customized cans under the 'Pepsi Taste Challenge.' The caption, originally in Arabic, added that the cans represented Palestinian identity and heritage through an assortment of embroidered drawings highlighting the richness and beauty of Palestinian cultural heritage. On August 20, Yazegi Group's Facebook account also posted a video of the customized Pepsi cans with the caption, "Pepsi wore the Palestinian uniform(translated from Arabic).  We have written to the Yazegi Group for comment, and this fact-check will be updated if and when we receive a response.

The "Pepsi Taste Challenge" was also featured on the website of Pepsi Palestine, indicating that the modified design for the Pepsi cola cans were indeed introduced by a Palestine-based manufacturing company. 

Screenshot of the Yazegi Group’s post. (Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

It is to be noted that this change in the design of the Pepsi can appears to be a decision made by a local supplier and bottling unit in Gaza. The design was launched before the current Israel-Hamas war conflict, which is in its fourth week now, kicked off, and wasn't rolled out globally. We have reached out to PepsiCo for confirmation, and their response will be included in the fact-check if and when we get it. 

Is Pepsi an Israeli company?

While its parent company runs business worldwide, including in Israel, Pepsi originated in the United States. According to the Pepsi Carolina website, the cola drink was invented by pharmacist Caleb D. Bradham in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1893. Initially, it was called 'Brad's Drink,' and later, in 1898, it was renamed 'Pepsi-Cola.' Pepsi's parent company refers to itself as a "North Carolina Company."

The verdict

A Palestinian bottling unit that supplies Pepsi in Gaza adopted a new look for the carbonated beverage can in August as part of a local marketing exercise. This modified design has now been wrongly linked to the Israel-Hamas war. 

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before