Food & Beverage Perspectives
Ranking the Big 10 Food, Beverage Companies on Sustainability

Ranking the Big 10 Food, Beverage Companies on Sustainability

<p>On March 31, Oxfam released its 3rd Annual Battle of the Brands Scorecard Update that found the Big 10 companies are improving their policies on paper, but still have a long way to go in terms of implementing these new policies in practice. Eight of the 10 companies improved their overall score since February 2014. Unilever overtook Nestl&#233; to claim the No. 1 spot with an overall score of 71 percent compared to Nestl&#233;&#8217;s 69 percent.</p>

Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword anymore and it’s definitely not a passing fad. The overall concept of sustainability—economical, ecological, and ethical and social—is the new normal, especially when it comes to the production of food and beverages. No company is too big to ignore the demands of their consumers, and the same goes for their suppliers, agricultural producers and traders with whom they do business.

To the food and beverage industry, this takes on a critical importance, as the global population is predicted to grow from 7 billion in 2012 to 8.9 billion by 2050, and now more than ever, there is increased pressure to find efficient and sustainable ways to feed the global population.

Launched in February 2013, Oxfam Internationals’ “Behind the Brands" campaign ranks the Big 10 international food and beverage companies—Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever—on their policies and commitments to improve food security and sustainability. The scorecard covers seven themes impacting the lives of people living in poverty around the world: transparency, farmers, women, agricultural workers, access to land, water and climate change.

On March 31, Oxfam released its 3rd Annual Battle of the Brands Scorecard Update that found the Big 10 companies are improving their policies on paper, but still have a long way to go in terms of implementing these new policies in practice.

According to the updated March 2015 Behind the Brands Scorecard, eight of the 10 companies improved their overall score since February 2014. Unilever overtook Nestlé to claim the No. 1 spot with an overall score of 71 percent compared to Nestlé’s 69 percent. ABF and Danone dropped in the rankings, with only Danone and Coca-Cola showing no improvement overall. ABF still performs badly and, at 30 percent, is relegated back into last place. The scores of the four companies at the bottom of the scorecard—Kellogg, Danone, General Mills and ABF—are less than half that of leader Unilever’s. Danone dropped from sixth place in 2014 to a shared eight place with General Mills at the bottom of the pack.

“After two years of sustained pressure from the hundreds of thousands of Oxfam supporters, The Big 10 are definitely moving in the right direction. However, the real challenge has just begun. Companies now need to start putting new policy commitments into practice. Only then will real change happen for the millions of small farmers and agricultural workers. It is high time for companies to walk the talk," said Monique van Zijl, international campaign manager for Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign.

“Farmers is the lowest overall scoring theme on the scorecard. Six of the 10 companies perform particularly badly on this theme and the majority of the companies still turn a blind eye to farmers in their supply chains. Extreme weather patterns are on the rise and destroy farmers’ livelihoods across the world. Now more than ever companies must take responsibility to support workers and farmers in their supply chain to adapt to climate change."

As we look toward the future, the solution for global food insecurity should just rest on the shoulders of the Big 10. The importance of sustainability’s effect on the global supply chain reaches companies small and large. In 2013 SupplySide’s Boardroom Journal took an in-depth look at what this means for companies and how they can implement sustainable practices into their everyday processes. The issue also delved into what companies are doing worldwide to make a sustainable difference and the risks of ignoring sustainability. Click here to read more about this important issue.

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