Top 10 food and drink brands must do more to encourage ethical supply chains

Gurjit Degun
27 February 2014

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27 February 2014 | Gurjit Degun

The world’s top 10 food and drink companies have made progress on introducing policies to support suppliers in the past year, but more needs to be done, says charity Oxfam.

Oxfam’s ‘Behind the Brands’ scorecard measures the sourcing policies of the firms, looking at transparency, conditions for women and other workers, farmers, land, water and climate. The charity said the companies have improved their social and environmental policies due to public pressure but it accused them of moving too slowly.

Six of the companies introduced policies in the past year to help ensure their suppliers are not involved in land grabs.

However, Oxfam, which has been tracking the firms, highlighted policies that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Associated British Foods (ABF) needed to strengthen to stop land grabs in their supply chains last October.

“Coca-Cola moved quickly to dramatically improve its policies,” said Oxfam. “ABF has also committed to new policies that begin to address the issues and dialogue continues with PepsiCo to secure similar promises to implement greater protection of land rights across its supply chains.”

It said that Nestlé, which tops this year's scorecard, Unilever, Kellogg’s and General Mills also have some degree of land policies.

Seven companies have also signed up to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles – a “high-level commitment” to improve the conditions for women affected by its business.

“The three biggest cocoa companies, Nestlé, Mondelez and Mars, will release a detailed action plan in May 2014 about how they will address gender inequities in their supply chains,” said Oxfam.

It added that eight companies have improved their policies on climate, “mainly through better disclosure of their emissions and risks” related to climate change. “These policy changes are a necessary first step towards better practices and less hunger, poverty and environmental damage felt by communities in food and beverage company supply chains,” said Oxfam.

Oxfam's campaigns and policy director Ben Phillips said: “These companies, with so much power and influence, can do so much more and while some are showing leadership, others are clinging to a business model that is outdated and fails to respect human rights.”

Danone, the other food manufacturer examined, was ranked in joint sixth place with Mars.

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