Oxfam has produced a highly critical league table on the ethical performance of the world's 10 biggest food and drink companies, supported by a global digital marketing campaign to raise awareness of the findings among consumers.
'Behind the Brands' concludes that the social and environmental policies of the branded food behemoths, which, combined, make $1bn (£66m) a day, are "not fit for modern purpose and need a major shake-up".
The research forms part of Oxfam's 'Grow' campaign, aimed at "fixing the broken food system".
Seven out of 10 of the companies received "poor" ratings, while Nestlé, which topped the table with a score of 54%, Unilever and Coca-Cola, were judged to be making "some progress".
Associated British Foods (ABF), which owns brands such as Kingsmill, Twinings and Ryvita, came last out of the 10 companies examined, scoring a "poor" rating of 19%. Oxfam claimed the company failed to "recognise community land rights or the impact that growing crops for fuel has on food supplies". It also said ABF was the worst out of the 10 on climate change.
In joint second-to-last place were Kellogg and General Mills, whose brands include Haagen-Dazs and Green Giant.
ABF and General Mills were unavailable for comment. A spokeswoman for Kellogg said it would be "reviewing the Oxfam Report in detail". She added that Kellogg was "committed to working more closely with the farmers who grow our grains to drive improvements in sustainability and we have a zero tolerance policy against forced labour".
Jeremy Hobbs, executive director for Oxfam International lambasted the group of 10 for not "moving fast enough to turn around a 100-year legacy of relying on cheap land and labour to make mass products at huge profits, with unacceptably high social and environmental costs".
To promote the report, Oxfam is running a global digital public awareness campaign, created by Code Computerlove, across the following countries – Australia, the US, Canada + Quebec, France, UK, China, Hong Kong, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Russia, and the Philippines.
The purpose is to get consumers to "change the way the food companies that make your favourite brands do business". It has launched with a focus on cocoa production.
Hobbs said: "By contacting companies on Twitter and Facebook, or by signing a petition to their CEOs, consumers can do their part to help bring lasting change in our 'broken' food system by showing companies expect them to operate responsibly."
Oxfam's brand rankings
- Nestlé, 54%
- Unilever, 49%
- Coca-Cola, 41%
- PepsiCo, 31%
- Mars, 30%
- Danone, 29%
- Mondelez International, 29%
- General Mills, 23%
- Kellogg, 23%
- Associated British Foods, 19%
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