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Press Releases & Updates

18 SEP 2013

Investors push food industry giants for urgent action on transparency

New rankings of Oxfam’s Behind the Brands scorecard show food companies slowly improving policies

Today 31 major investment funds shared a statement with the ten biggest food and beverage companies in the world, expressing their support for Oxfam’s Behind the Brands initiative. The investors called on food industry giants to improve their supply chain policies and transparency, and urged the companies concerned to do more to reduce social and environmental risks in their supply chains.

The statement comes six months after the launch of Oxfam’s Behind the Brands scorecard, ranking food and beverage companies on their policies and urging them to strengthen their efforts to prevent hunger, poverty and protect the environment. The investors stated that the transparency and accountability within the Food and Beverage Sector should be improved, and they promised to work with their companies to pursue changes to food and beverage company policies.

Today Oxfam announced its second update to the rankings showing small improvements companies have made to their policies. Companies including Nestle, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Danone and General Mills have seen slight increases in their scores, though no company performs better than “fair” overall.

Score increases since February:

Unilever and Nestle: 7%
Coca-Cola: 5%
Danone: 4%
Mondelez: 2%
Mars and General Mills: 1%
PepsiCo, Associated British Foods (ABF) and Kellogg’s: No Change

www.behindthebrands.org/scorecard

Among the changes that led to score increases:

  • Nestle now recognizes land rights more comprehensively and is the first company of the Big 10 to fully support Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) for local communities in its supplier guidelines, used for the sourcing of agricultural commodities. FPIC requirements can help push suppliers to avoid land grabs and respect the rights of local communities.
  • Coca Cola's Sustainable Agricultural Guiding Principles now include policies that require suppliers to better manage water pollution, biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Unilever's Gender score has improved due to its endorsement of the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles and its commitment to conduct impact assessments on commodities it sources where women play a key role.
  • Associated British Foods, General Mills and Kellogg’s remain at the bottom of the scorecard with few signs of progress.

“It is important to recognize the genuine effort some companies are making to address big challenges in their operations, but lasting solutions for communities will require much greater focus and ambition,” said

Kalina Tsang, Senior Manager of the Hong Kong Programme Unit of Oxfam Hong Kong. “Some companies are beginning to join the race to the top while others have barely approached the starting blocks. Now more than ever consumers and investors need to demand more action from companies to address the industry’s impacts on hunger and poverty.”

The investors are encouraged by the initial steps some of the companies are taking but they hope to see more action and greater commitment from across the industry.

-END-

Notes to editors:

Full text of the statement (English version only)
Behind the Brands website: http://www.behindthebrands.org/

About Oxfam
Oxfam is dedicated to fighting poverty and inequity worldwide. The international and independent development and humanitarian organisation tackles poverty in four main ways: sustainable development in poor communities, disaster relief, local, national and global advocacy, and education with Hong Kong youth. Established in Hong Kong in 1976, Oxfam Hong Kong is a founding member of Oxfam, an international confederation that has assisted poor people in 94 countries. Oxfam Hong Kong alone has supported poor people in over 70 countries/regions.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Kit Chau
Assistant Communications Officer
Oxfam Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 3120 5272
Email: kit.chau@oxfam.org.hk