News / USA

Global Food Companies Fail on Social, Environmental Policies

Screen grab of the Oxfam food companies' report.
Screen grab of the Oxfam food companies' report.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ten top multinational food corporations have received failing grades for their social and environmental policies in the developing world.  That’s according to a new scorecard from the anti-poverty group Oxfam.  While each company had made commitments to certain issues, none received a passing grade overall.  

Nestle scored high for transparency and water management. Unilever did well for including more small-scale farmers in its supply chain.

These two companies topped the scorecard.  But they still got failing grades.

That’s because you have to look at the big picture, says Oxfam’s Chris Jochnick.

“For example, none of the companies have adequate policies on land. And we know that land grabs [are] an increasingly critical issue for poor farmers across the globe and across the developing world," said Jochnick.

Land rights and fairness toward women were two areas where all 10 companies scored low.  Factoring in scores on greenhouse gas emissions and worker rights, none received a passing grade, with Associated British Foods at the bottom.

Jochnick says collectively, the 10 companies - including Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez and PepsiCo - ring up more than $1 billion a day in sales.

“These brands have an enormous influence, particularly on certain commodities," he said. "And so, if we just look at cocoa, three companies are responsible for 40 percent of the market. That is significant.”

He says the companies should be using their influence to push for change.

In a written response, Associated British Foods said, “The company has worked hard for many years, over a wide geography, at all levels of the supply chain to ensure its suppliers meet the highest ethical standards.”  Where problems have been found, they have been dealt with, it says.

Other companies took issue with their grades as well. Unilever said, “the report misses an opportunity to look at the full range of organizations that need to come together” to produce change, from producers, processors and retailers, to civil society and governments.

But Oxfam president Ray Offenheiser says their intention is not simply to heap criticism on the world’s top food makers.  

“On the contrary," said Offenheiser. "What we’re trying to do is produce a race to the top, if you will. In other words, encourage the companies to do more of what they’ve been doing.”

Offenheiser says Oxfam shared its findings with the companies before it issued the report and will continue its dialogue with them, updating the scorecard when it believes they have made significant improvements.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid