World’s biggest food and drink companies are improving their policies in developing countries following public pressure

Posted by Lucy Brinicombe Senior Press Officer

26th Feb 2014

The top 10 food and drink companies in the world have improved their social and environmental policies due to public pressure over the past year, Oxfam reveals today.

Progress has been made by some of the companies on land, women's rights and carbon emissions but while some leading companies have made major strides, overall the 'Big 10' has moved too slowly as a group.

Before the campaign launched a year ago, none of the ten companies had policies to ensure their ingredients weren't grown on land that had been taken from communities. Now, six have policies to help ensure their suppliers are not involved in land grabs. Seven companies have committed to improving the conditions for women affected by their operations. Eight companies have also improved their policies on climate mainly through better disclosing their emissions and risks related to climate change.

Oxfam's Campaigns and Policy Director Ben Phillips said: "Consumer power and investors are pushing most of the top 10 food and drink companies in the right direction and we are beginning to see what this can mean for poor and vulnerable people. 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influence, can do so much more and while some are showing leadership, others are clinging to a business model that is outdated and fails to respect human rights.

"Pressure from consumers is what pushed companies to be more responsible and so much more is possible if people continue to add their voice."

Oxfam's 'Behind the Brands' scorecard measures the sourcing policies of the biggest 10 food and drink companies looking at transparency, women and other workers, farmers, land, water and climate.

Nine companies listened and improved their policies, but General Mills alone did not and dropped to last place. General Mills sells Haagen-Dazs, Green Giant, Betty Crocker, Old El Paso and Yoplait among other brands. The top three performers - Nestle (1st), Unilever (2nd) and Coca-Cola (3rd) - all improved their scores by the biggest margins. Further details are in the table below.

In March Oxfam campaigned for the chocolate giants Mars, Mondelez and Nestle to improve their policies to help end inequality for women farmers - which they did. In October Oxfam highlighted policies that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and ABF needed to strengthen to stop land grabs in their supply chains. Coca-Cola moved quickly to dramatically improve its policies. 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.

 Developments include:

•           Six of the 'Big 10' instituted new policies that endorse the principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) that help ensure communities are consulted and must give consent before the land they are using is sold.

•           Seven companies have now signed up to the UN Women's Empowerment Principles, a high-level commitment by a company to improve the conditions for women impacted 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. 

•           Eight companies 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.

 Rankings February 2014 

Rank

Company

Score

Land

Women

Farmers

Workers

Climate

Transparency

Water

Total

1

Nestlé

64%

5

5

6

7

8

7

7

45/70

2

Unilever

63%

5

5

8

7

7

6

6

44/70

3

Coca Cola

54%

7

6

2

6

6

5

6

38/70

4

Mondelez

33%

3

5

4

3

2

3

3

23/70

4

PepsiCo

33%

2

2

3

3

6

3

4

23/70

6

Danone

31%

1

1

2

3

5

5

5

22/70

6

Mars

31%

1

4

4

3

4

4

2

22/70

8

Kellogg

29%

2

3

1

1

4

4

5

20/70

9

Associated British Foods

27%

3

2

2

3

4

3

2

19/70

10

General Mills

21%

2

1

2

2

2

2

4

15/70

KEY: Good 8 - 10  Fair 6 - 7  Some progress  4 - 5 Poor 2 - 3 Very poor 0 - 1

Rankings February 2013

Rank

Company

Score

Land

Women

Farmers

Workers

Climate

Transparency

Water

Total

1

Nestlé

54%

3

4

5

6

6

7

7

38/70

2

Unilever

49%

3

2

7

6

5

5

6

34/70

3

Coca Cola

41%

1

5

3

6

5

5

4

29/70

4

PepsiCo

31%

2

2

3

3

3

4

5

22/70

5

Mars

30%

1

1

5

4

3

5

2

21/70

6

Danone

29%

1

1

1

3

3

6

5

20/70

6

Mondelez

29%

1

2

4

4

3

4

2

20/70

8

General Mills

23%

1

2

1

3

2

2

5

16/70

8

Kellogg

23%

1

2

1

2

2

4

4

16/70

10

Associated British Foods

19%

1

1

2

3

1

3

2

13/70

KEY: Good 8 - 10  Fair 6 - 7  Some progress  4 - 5 Poor 2 - 3 Very poor 0 - 1

Full rankings of the scorecard

//Ends

For more information, interviews or to see the full report, contact Lucy Brinicombe: 07786 110054 / lbrinicombe@oxfam.org.uk

Interactive graphics available:

Blog post written by Lucy Brinicombe

Senior Press Officer

More by Lucy Brinicombe