Corporates slammed over land rights
Associated British Foods, Pepsi and Coca-Cola score poorly in new policy ratings
Nine out of ten companies rated by Oxfam are not doing enough to prevent conflicts over land used to grow sugar and other labour-intensive commodities such as soy and palm oil.
The Behind the Brands scorecard, part of Oxfam's GROW campaign, ranks the Big 10's - Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Unilever - policies and commitments in seven critical areas: women, small-scale farmers, farm workers, water, land, climate change, and transparency.
Of these areas, land is the one on which the companies score worst.
According to the report, the Big 10 lack adequate policies to ensure that local communities' land rights are protected along their supply chains, and none has declared zero tolerance of "land grabbing".
Access to land for small-scale farmers is a pivotal part of a better food system and access to common lands provides communities with water, fodder, fruits, nuts, and other resources – often vitally important for women to feed themselves and their families.
The report, 'Sugar Conflict', sets out how one crop – sugar – has been driving large-scale land acquisitions and land conflicts at the expense of small-scale food producers and their families. Since 2000, nearly 800 large-scale land deals covering 33m hectares globally – an area four times the size of Portugal – have been recorded. Although due to the lack of transparency around land deals the size is thought to be much bigger.
In particular some of the world’s largest users and producers of sugar such as ABF, Pepsi and Coca-Cola have been scored by Oxfam as having "poor" or "very poor" policies in relation to land rights and the prevention of land grabbing.
The scorecard was launched in 2013 and has tracked companies' progress through each of the seven issues.
Nestlé is the one company showing some progress – scoring 5 out of 10 on land. Although Nestlé fails to commit to zero tolerance on land grabbing, it has adopted new sourcing guidelines to become the first of the Big 10 to fully support the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous and local communities in its supplier guidelines, used for the sourcing of sugar, soy, palm oil, and other commodities.
While food and beverage companies are not usually direct land holders, they are collectively major buyers of commodities grown on large plantations, often in countries plagued by land rights violations. Food and beverage companies must urgently recognise these issues, and take steps to ensure that land rights violations and conflicts are not part of their supply chains.
You can take action by signing a petition here.
See more details on how each of the companies score.