Investors push food industry giants on transparency
Investors push food industry giants for urgent action on transparency
New rankings show food companies slowly improving policies
Today 31 major investment funds, representing nearly 1.5 trillion dollars of assets under management, called on food industry giants to improve their supply chain policies and transparency. In a statement shared with the ten biggest food and beverage companies in the world, the global investors expressed support for Oxfam’s Behind the Brands initiative and urged companies to do more to reduce social and environmental risks in their supply chains.
“Due to a lack of transparency within the sector, it is difficult to fully evaluate the risk and opportunity that our companies bear within their supply chains,” reads the statement sponsored by Calvert Investments and signed by investors including F&C Asset Management, BNP Paribas Investment Partners and Aviva Investors. The investment funds promised to work with their companies to pursue changes to food and beverage company policies. “The data show there is a broad and urgent need for significant improvement across the sector.”
The letter comes six months after the launch of Oxfam’s Behind the Brands scorecard, ranking food and beverage companies on their policies and urging them to strengthen their efforts to prevent hunger, poverty and protect the environment.
Today Oxfam announced its second update to the rankings showing small improvements companies have made to their policies. Companies including Nestle, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Danone and General Mills have seen slight increases in their scores, though no company performs better than “fair” overall.
“The scorecard is a valuable tool to identify areas of risk across companies’ supply chains and compare different efforts to mitigate those risks,” said Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors, a UK fund manager. “We are encouraged by the initial steps some of the companies are taking but hope to see more action and greater commitment from across the industry.”
Oxfam’s first Behind the Brands campaign action on women’s rights resulted in new commitments from Mars, Mondelez and Nestle to address inequality for women in their cocoa supply chains.
“It is important to recognise the genuine effort some companies are making to address big challenges in their operations, but lasting solutions for communities will require much greater focus and ambition,” said Sarah Meads, Advocacy and Campaigns Manager, Oxfam New Zealand. “Investors are increasingly rewarding companies that address sustainability challenges across their global supply chains. Some companies are beginning to join the race to the top while others have barely approached the starting blocks. Now more than ever consumers and investors need to demand more action from companies to address the industry’s impacts on hunger and poverty.”
The updated scorecard comes just two weeks before Oxfam will release a major new investigation revealing land grabs in the sugar supply chains of major food and beverage giants. It will be the second major action since the Behind the Brands campaign began.