The Journey to Sustainable Food: A three-year update on the Behind the Brands campaign

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In February 2013, Oxfam launched the Behind the Brands campaign to challenge the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies on their social and environmental policies and practices, and to amplify the voices of key stakeholders such as farmers, communities, consumers and investors calling on them to take action. This report provides an overview of the progress made over the past three years. The companies have made significant new commitments to improve social and environmental standards in their vast supply chains. But the companies must now ensure that their suppliers actually change their practices in line with the commitments made. And to accelerate the transformation towards a more sustainable food system, the companies must go further and adopt new business models in their supply chains to ensure that more of the power and the value reach the farmers and workers who produce their ingredients.  
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  OXFAM BRIEFING PAPER 19 APRIL 2016 www.oxfam.org THE JOURNEY TO SUSTAINABLE FOOD  A three-year update on the Behind the Brands campaign In February 2013, Oxfam launched the Behind the Brands campaign to challenge the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies on their social and environmental policies and practices, and to amplify the voices of key stakeholders such as farmers, communities, consumers and investors calling on them to take action. The companies have made significant new commitments over the past three years to improve social and environmental standards in their vast supply chains. But the companies must now ensure that their suppliers actually change their practices in line with the commitments made. And to accelerate the transformation towards a more sustainable food system, the companies must go further and adopt new business models in their supply chains to ensure that more of the power and the value reaches the farmers and workers who produce their ingredients.  2   SUMMARY The newly updated Behind the Brands scorecard shows that the ‘ Big 10 ’  food and beverage companies have made significant new commitments over the past three years to improve social and environmental standards in their vast supply chains. Pushed by over 700,000 actions by concerned consumers, progress has been most evident in the areas of protecting land rights, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling gender inequality. But there is much work still to do. These companies must now ensure that their suppliers actually change their practices in line with the commitments made. But to accelerate the transformation towards a more sustainable food system, the companies must go much further and fundamentally re-write the business models in their supply chains to ensure that much more power and much more of the value their products generate reaches the farmers and workers who produce their ingredients. Figure 1: Overall score changes per company from 2013 to 2016   3   Figure 2: Behind the Brands scorecard February 2013 Figure 3: Behind the Brands scorecard April 2016  4   1 INTRODUCTION In a world that produces enough food for everyone, almost 800 million people endure chronic hunger. Power over our global food system is concentrated in the hands of a small elite of government and corporate interests, and is too often denied both to the hundreds of millions of small-scale food producers who grow most of our food, and to the billions of us who consume it. If we are to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goal of ‘ zero hunger  ’  by 2030, then this unequal food system, and the business models that underpin it, must be radically transformed.   The good news is that change is happening, and some of the world’s largest food and beverage companies have the means to accelerate it. Just ten of those companies, the ‘Big 10’ –  Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondel ē z International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever  –  collectively generate revenues of more than $1.1bn per day 1  and employ millions of people directly and indirectly. Their supply chains are linked to every part of the food system, from the small-scale producer to the everyday consumer.   In February 2013, Oxfam launched the Behind the Brands campaign to challenge the social and environmental policies and practices of the Big 10, and to critically amplify the voices of key stakeholders such as farmers, communities, consumers and investors calling on them to take action. This report provides an overview of progress made in the three years since. More than 700,000 campaign actions were taken by Behind the Brands supporters urging the Big 10 companies to improve their policies. From targeted online social media to offline mobilizations and email petitions, Oxfam supporters have successfully influenced companies to adopt policies which can positively impact the lives of millions of people living in poverty. 3  The latest update of the Behind the Brands scorecard published in this report shows clear improvements from all companies in many areas. All but one has improved its score by at least 10 percent over the past three years. The results show that the Big 10 have demonstrated a better understanding of key supply chain issues and made new, stronger policy commitments, particularly in areas like gender equality, land rights and climate change. But the work is just beginning: companies now need to ensure that their suppliers actually change their practices. But even with full implementation, these incremental steps can only bring us so far. To accelerate the transformation towards a truly just and sustainable food system, companies need to fundamentally re-write the business models in their supply chains to ensure that much more power and much more of the value their products generate reaches farmers and workers; for example via an increase in farmer- and worker-owned businesses in supply chains.   ‘The Oxfam [campaign] reflects a new era in the relationship between companies and campaigners  –  one in which activism and collaboration combine.’ Sarah Murray, Financial Times  (2013) 2  
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