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.
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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid