Oxfam says food companies need to improve supplier practices

The 10 largest global food companies have made commitments to improve social and environmental standards in their vast supply chains, according to anti-poverty charity, Oxfam. However, in an assessment of its three-year ‘behind the brands campaign’ Oxfam also said that much more power and much more of the value that the companies’ products generate needs to reach the farmers and workers who produce their ingredients. This is necessary if we are to meet the new Sustainable Development Goal of ‘zero hunger’ by 2030, Oxfam says.

The charity has targeted what is dubbed as the ‘big 10’ because these companies Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever – collectively generate revenues of more than $1.1bn per day and employ millions of people directly and indirectly.

Oxfam has produced a scorecard showing the performance of the companies against criteria such as land rights, climate change and treatment of farmers each year – and all the companies have improved on their scores from 2013. The top company  in 2016 is Unilever with a score of 52/70 compared with 24/70 in 2013 when it was ranked second below Nestlé. In 2016 Nestlé came second with a score of 48/70, 10 points more than when it topped the table in 2013. The lowest ranked companies were Danone and ABF which both had a score in 2016 of 25. ABF had been bottom of the table in 2013 with a score of 13, while Danone has not improved as much as other food companies having dropped from a ranking of sixth despite raising its score by five points compared with 2013.

Between 2013 and 2016, there has been an improvement of four points or greater on scorecard scores for ABF (land), Coca-Cola (land), General Mills (climate), Kellogg (climate, farmers, land, women), Mars (women), Mondelēz (women), Nestlé (land), PepsiCo (climate, land) and Unilever (climate, land, women), the report states. For all the four themes, land, women, climate change and farmers, at least one company improved their score by at least four points out of ten. The overall scores for each company improved by at least 10 percent, except for Danone (improved by 7 percent). The strongest improvement in overall scores was made by Kellogg, which improved by 30 percent, followed by Unilever, improving by 26 percent.

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