Starbucks in crosshairs as Mexico boycott campaign simmers

A Starbucks logo is seen at a Starbucks coffee shop in Vienna, Austria, December 27, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Seeking to quell a social media campaign imploring Mexicans to boycott U.S. companies, Starbucks defended itself on Friday, saying it had invested millions in the country, created more than 7,000 jobs, and that its local unit is Mexican-owned. The statement came after disparate social media campaigns directed at U.S. companies based in Mexico gained traction, following U.S. President Donald Trump's order to build a border wall along the country's southern border and promise to make Mexico pay for it. In a statement, Starbucks said its Mexican operator Alsea has some 560 stores across Mexico, representing an investment of 5 billion pesos ($239 million), and sells Arabica coffee beans harvested in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas around the world. Even so, a campaign urged Mexicans not to buy products from the world's biggest coffee seller, with the hashtag #AdiosStarbucks trending on Twitter earlier this week. Social media users have also called for boycotts of U.S. companies including McDonald's , Wal-mart , and Coca-Cola . Earlier this month, a Mexican state governor said his administration would no longer buy cars from U.S. auto maker Ford , calling on others to do the same after the company abruptly canceled a planned investment in the country. "It's time for Mexicans to show what we're made of," Alejandro Moreno, governor of the southeastern state of Campeche, said. "Actions like this should multiply across the country." On Friday, Mexico's wealthiest man, Carlos Slim, weighed in on the topic, saying he thought attempts to boycott U.S. companies were wrong. "They are American businesses that have come to invest in Mexico, to give employment in Mexico, to produce in Mexico," Slim said. "What needs to be done really is consuming what the country produces." Shares of Starbucks closed down 4 percent on Friday to $56.12, the lowest level since Jan. 4. (Reporting by Natalie Schachar and Christine Murray; Editing by Sandra Maler)