Oxfam's Behind the Brands scorecard finds top 10 food companies improve social & environmental standards, need to ensure implementation by suppliers

Oxfam's Behind the Brands campaign rates the 10 biggest food & beverage companies on how their policies address 7 key issue areas: land rights, women's rights, support for small farmers, workers' rights, climate, transparency, and water.

Oxfam's three year progress report finds that the "companies have made significant new commitments to improve social and environmental standards in their vast supply chains. But the companies must now ensure that their suppliers actually change their practices in line with the commitments made. And to accelerate the transformation towards a more sustainable food system, the companies must go further and adopt new business models in their supply chains to ensure that more of the power and the value reach the farmers and workers who produce their ingredients."

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has invited the companies to provide statements on the scorecard.  Company statements are provided below.

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Article
26 April 2016

Commentary: "Big food is improving, but a transformation is needed"

Author: Erinch Sahan, Oxfam GB

While good progress has been made by some, the next step is for companies to shift up a gear and start turning policy commitments into company practice. This starts with moving beyond their own operations to ensuring that new standards and approaches are implemented by suppliers too. This should include specific measures such as a commitment to zero tolerance for land grabs, taking steps to better understand the specific challenges faced by women in their supply chains and reducing agricultural emissions through stopping deforestation and reducing the carbon footprint associated with growing, transporting and processing food and drink...Business models that squeeze value away from farmers and workers must be transformed so that they can thrive, and so that the food system can work for us all...The last few decades have increasingly seen power and value concentrated among a smaller and smaller set of traders, processors and other corporate actors in value chains. Meanwhile, small scale producers and farmers have been left with an ever decreasing share of the total value that consumers pay for their food...We are seeing good practice starting to emerge with some of the best exa
mples being commercial business models where farmers own businesses that capture more value. Models like KTDA, where 550,000 small-scale tea farmers co-own processing plants result in farmers receiving 75 per cent of the final tea price...Business models such as these must become the future of the food sector if we are to allow farmers and workers to thrive so they can continue to feed us all.

Read the full post here

Report
26 April 2016

Full report: "The Journey to Sustainable Food: A three-year update on the Behind the Brands campaign"

Author: Oxfam

In February 2013, Oxfam launched the Behind the Brands campaign to challenge the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies on their social and environmental policies and practices, and to amplify the voices of key stakeholders such as farmers, communities, consumers and investors calling on them to take action. This report provides an overview of the progress made over the past three years.The companies have made significant new commitments to improve social and environmental standards in their vast supply chains. But the companies must now ensure that their suppliers actually change their practices in line with the commitments made. And to accelerate the transformation towards a more sustainable food system, the companies must go further and adopt new business models in their supply chains to ensure that more of the power and the value reach the farmers and workers who produce their ingredients.

Read the full post here

Article
26 April 2016

Press release: "Ten of the world’s biggest food and beverage companies battle to improve their social sustainability through the Behind the Brands campaign"

Author: Oxfam

Nine of the “Big 10” global food and beverage companies have improved their ratings by at least 10 percent in three years since Oxfam began keeping score through its “Behind the Brands” scorecard. Oxfam highlighted the major strides most of them have made to improve their policies on land rights, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and gender equality in company supply chains. Kellogg (up 30 percent) and Unilever (up 26 percent) made the most progress across all themes since the campaign began...Throughout the campaign, Unilever and Nestlé have led the pack scoring high on climate change policies. Unilever achieved the top spot from Nestlé after two years. Coca-Cola, with strong policies on land rights, remains third at 57 percent, followed by Kellogg at 53 percent. ABF, with weak commitments on farmers, gender and water, was in last place in 2013 and remains one of the poorest performers in 2016, with 36 percent, despite improvements by some of its subsidiaries – notably Illovo Sugar on land. Danone is the other poorest performer, despite significant commitments on climate...“Despite some strong progress over the past three years, the ‘Big 10’ still have a lot of work to do. Given the inequalities and injustices in the food chain that leave millions of people at risk of being food insecure, especially small-scale producers, the ‘Big 10’ must use their power to transform how food is produced, traded and processed,” said  van Zijl...

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Company response
25 April 2016

Kellogg's response

Author: Kellogg

At Kellogg, we strive to make food people love. And today, that means more than food that tastes great. People care about where their food comes from, the people who grow and make it, and that there’s enough for everyone. We believe in great tasting food you can feel good about, too. We must live our values and communicate with transparency to earn our seat at millions of tables every day. We’re helping improve the livelihoods of farming families and communities who grow our ingredients and giving our foods the best start possible by protecting the land where our ingredients are grown and our foods are made, demonstrated by our commitment to support half-a-million farmers with a focus on Climate Smart Agriculture practices that increase their productivity and enable climate resilience. Kellogg is proud of our contributions toward sustainable food, especially in the areas of climate, farmers, land and women, and we’re pleased that Oxfam recognizes our progress as well. We remain committed to driving improvement through our 2020 sustainability goals.

Company response
25 April 2016

Mars response

Author: Mars

We’re working hard to source sustainably produced raw materials, raise farmers’ incomes and positively impact the communities from which we source. Oxfam’s report is one way we keep track of how we’re progressing in these areas, and we’re pleased to see that we've been improving our scores year after year. But we’re not there yet. We still have a lot of work to do, and we believe our wider sustainable sourcing strategy will help us get there.

Company response
25 April 2016

Mondelēz International response

Author: Mondelēz International

We’re pleased Oxfam has been raising awareness for these important issues. We appreciate they’re recognizing our ongoing work in advancing the rights of women in the cocoa supply chain and in other areas like climate change and land where our score has improved.

Our business depends on a steady, high-quality supply of crops like cocoa, wheat and many other commodities to create our delicious snacks. As demand for these supplies increases worldwide, so do the challenges facing farmers — from reducing the environmental impact of agricultural practices and dealing with more frequent extreme weather to the long-term impact of climate change and growing competition for land.

These challenges are complex and require coordinated action by governments, industry, and scientific and environmental experts.

You can read more about our work in this area in the sustainable agriculture section of our Call For Well-being Progress Report and our 2020 sustainability goals.

Article
25 April 2016

Nestlé response

We again commend Oxfam for the constructive manner in which it presents the complex social and environmental issues global good companies face. We are pleased that we continue to be ranked among the top two companies in the scorecard. We are also proud to be one of the two companies to receive a “good” score for our efforts to ensure security of land tenure for farmers and local communities and for our climate change actions. We are being recognised for rising to the climate challenge with solid policies on deforestation, palm oil, agricultural emissions, and advocacy engagement. Our new Nestlé in Society Report 2015 provides detailed information about our approach to, and achievements on core issues addressed in the Behind the Brand scorecard, such as climate change, rural development, human rights, women’s empowerment, land acquisition and water stewardship. We acknowledge that improving food security worldwide requires a lot more work by all stakeholders. We will continue to support the efforts of Oxfam and other organisations in making progress toward a sustainable food system. This requires a collaborative effort by civil society, government and business and we believe that the food industry has a vital role to play in accelerating such progress. We have looked closely at areas where the report has identified room for improvement such as gender issues and farmers livelihoods. We will continue to take firm steps to further the implementation of our commitments and deliver benefits in society at every stage of our operations.

Download the full document here

Company response
25 April 2016

PepsiCo response

Author: PepsiCo

PepsiCo knows it has an important role to play in environmental stewardship and social issues. We are taking action on pressing global concerns such as climate change, water stewardship, land rights, and the empowerment of women in our value chain. While we’ve made progress, we also recognize this is a journey and that there’s always more to do. We also know that we cannot achieve success alone. We will continue to listen to and engage with a wide array of stakeholders and organizations, including Oxfam, as we work to find solutions to these complex issues

Company response
22 April 2016

Coca-Cola response

Author: Ben Jordan, Coca-Cola

"Oxfam Report Shines Light on Agricultural Supply Chains", 21 Apr 2016

Oxfam’s recent release of its 2016 Behind the Brands scorecard and report, Journey to Sustainable Food: A three-year update on the Behind the Brands campaign, is an important reminder of this consumer reality, our progress and the road ahead. The campaign focuses on systematic, long-term change, helping to provide a roadmap for our industry toward a more sustainable future...The Coca-Cola Company ranks third overall, and has made progress across a number of themes, including water and climate, as well as land rights, where Coca-Cola leads scoring 8 out of 10...We recognize more work needs to be done, and we are committed to improve accountability and transparency, down to the farm. Our approach to sustainable agriculture is long-term, founded on principles to protect the environment, uphold workplace rights and help build more sustainable communities. As we implement our land rights commitment... through our policies and country studies, we are gaining a better understanding of our sugar supply chain..

Read the full post here

Company response
22 April 2016

Danone response

Author: Danone

In 1972, armed with a pioneering spirit, Danone laid the foundation for a new model that combines efficient business practices with social responsibility. Since then, we have continued to seek to create value for all our stakeholders, society and the environment in which we operate.

The Oxfam Behind the Brands 2016 report does not acknowledge many of the sustainability projects we are collaborating on with our partners and stakeholders. Indeed, Oxfam’s assessment methodology and framework does not really fit with our approach.

Our primary aim is to act in the field. As an example of our specific approach, our RESPECT programs launched in 2005 and our FaRMs program focusing on our milk producers, launched in 1997, ensure that we only work with suppliers that are compliant with core social principles such as not using forced labor, child labor, or working conditions that endanger the integrity and health of their employees.

Danone’s specific approach ensures our social and environmental sustainability work prioritizes those areas where we believe we can make the most practical impact. We leverage lessons learnt and experience gained in collaboration with, for example, local food producers and communities. An example of this is our 100 million euros Ecosystem Fund, which is intended to strengthen and develop the activities of those partners (e.g. farmers & suppliers) who operate within our ecosystem in a sustainable way. These initiatives are led in collaboration with, and co-funded by, NGOs, micro-credit organizations and development agencies.

This approach to sustainability means that we prefer to experiment and validate the impact of our actions before publishing policies. When we have completed our assessment and validation we share our policies. For example, our ambitious Forest Footprint policy published on October 15, 2012; and our Climate Change policy unveiled at COP 21 in November 2015, which targets zero net carbon emissions across all our activities. These policies are just two examples among many, which demonstrate how we are strengthening the resilience of our global food chain.  

We recognize that tracking progress in these areas is not an easy task. Danone is always willing to explore new initiatives that could help account for progress in our many sustainability projects within the context of our health, environmental, social and economic goals and commitments. This is the reason why we will be launching our first Integrated Report before the end of this month.

We welcome OXFAM and many other NGO’s contributions to our efforts.