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1 Oct 2018

KnowTheChain: Ranking of 38 food and beverage companies on efforts to address forced labour in supply chains

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The risk of forced labour is pervasive across today’s food and beverage supply chains: from tea pickers on tea estates to crew members on fishing vessels and laborers on cattle and poultry ranches, cocoa farms, and rice mills. KnowTheChain’s second food and beverage benchmark found that Unilever, Kellogg, and Coca-Cola lead efforts to eradicate forced labour, but that the industry is not doing enough for significant progress.

Five companies score below 10 out of 100, including meat company WH Group (0/100), which owns the world’s largest pork business; the packaged foods company Almarai3 (0/100); Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group (1/100), one of the largest global dairy companies; the US energy drinks company Monster Beverage (4/100); and the Mexican company Fomento Económico Mexicano (FEMSA) (7/100), the largest bottler for Coca-Cola.

It is encouraging that 17 out of 19 companies benchmarked in both 2016 and 2018 disclose additional steps taken to address forced labour risks in their supply chains. However, the average score remains low (30/100) and worker voice and recruitment remain the lowest scoring themes.

There is a noticeable lack of remedy in the sector, despite a high number of allegations identified in the benchmark.

Where detail on commodities was provided by companies, disclosure focuses on palm oil, despite the fact that numerous other commodities are at risk of forced labour in agricultural supply chains, including beef, coffee, rice, sugar, tea, tomatoes, and wheat.

The companies were selected for the benchmark based on their size (market capitalization) and the extent to which they derive revenues from own branded food and beverage products. KnowTheChain assessed information available on each company’s website, additional public disclosure that companies provided, and forced labour allegations and companies’ responses. 

In addition to ranking 38 global food and beverage companies and providing an analysis of company policies, the benchmark provides recommendations for companies on a path forward. It also provides a valuable framework for investors to inform their decision making and active ownership practices. For this reasons, KnowTheChain is supported by global investors representing more than $3 trillion in assets who also committed to taking action to eradicate forced labour in their portfolios.

Following the ICT benchmark released in the first half of 2018, KnowTheChain will launch one additional benchmark on the apparel and footwear in the second half of 2018. 

See the press release for more details.