Latest news about ethical consumerism


Behind the Brands Campaign

Apr 21

Written by:
21/04/2016 13:08  RssIcon

Oxfam rates the farming policies of the big ten food companies

This month Oxfam have released new ratings for its Behind the Brands campaign.

In its third year, Behind the Brands assesses their policies on the sourcing of agricultural commodities from developing countries.

The campaign targets Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mondelez, Coca-Cola, Danone, Associated British Foods, Kelloggs, Mars, General Mills.


Companies are assessed on seven criteria:

1. Transparency at a corporate level 

2. Women farm workers and small-scale producers in the supply chain 

3. Workers on farms in the supply chain 

4. Farmers (small-scale) growing the commodities 

5. Land, both rights and access to land and sustainable use of it 

6. Water, both rights and access to water resources and sustainable use of it 

7. Climate, both relating to reducing green house gas emissions and helping farmers adapt to climate change 

Oxfam states:

“We wanted to target the top 10 food and beverage companies and get them to change on 7 important issues. Challenging the 10 companies that control most of the food and drink brands you’ll find in the supermarket may sound overly ambitious, but we knew it could be done.”


The results: 

Unilever remains at the top of the leader board, where it has been since March 2015. The company has showed and improved its rating on women since it was last assessed. In particular it leads the companies on the issues of climate change, small-scale farmers, transparency and workers' rights. However, Unilever could still tell more on communicating its social impacts of its supply chain activities, particularly in relation to land and gender. 

Unilever have recently appeared in our product guide to cooking oils (Unilever owns Flora & Olivio Cooking Oil). 

Nestlé now ranks second in the scorecard, it was previously the leader. It leads the way with policies on water and remains the most transparent company. Since February 2014, Nestlé has made some improvements in land and farmers and has updated its action plans to support women in cocoa supply chains.

Oxfam said that “Nestlé could make more of a difference by implementing similar action plans for women in its coffee and dairy supply chains.” 

Nestlé have recently appeared in our product guide to chocolate.


Coca-Cola sits third in the scorecard. It leads the way on respecting land rights and in supporting women. It scores higher than many others on policies related to worker’s rights, climate change, and water, but is left trailing the top companies due to poor performance on support for farmers. 

Coca-Cola have recently appeared in our product guide to soft drinks.


And at the bottom 

The bottom ranking is tied between Danone and Associated British Foods (ABF).

While Danone has made some progress since March 2015 on how it treats women, farmers and on water. It has also started to move on climate thanks to a new policy and a new deforestation commitment. But overall Danone is still lagging behind most of the other companies.

Oxfam said that ABF has made some strong progress on land, and limited progress on women. It noted that it had completed a socio-economic impact assessment by its sugar business Illovo. The company has also slightly improved on water. But it continues to score relatively low overall in the scorecard, let down by its weak commitments to improve the plight of women, workers and farmers, and to address climate change, water and land issues. Bottom of the pile on transparency and climate change.

Oxfam said that “ABF still needs to improve on a number of issues.” 

ABF have recently appeared in our product guide to cooking oils (Pride Cooking Oil) and our product guide to rice (Tolly Boy brand).


Sitting above Danone and ABF is General Mills who has improved since March 2015 on its climate and water. It had made progress on all criteria except land rights (for which they score a meagre 2). 

The full score card and details behind the scores can be found on the Behind the Brands website.


Campaign asks

The campaign encourages consumers to contact the companies to ask them to improve their policies on the criteria assessed. 

Oxfam said: “We want to thank you for joining us on this journey towards sustainable food... You pushed companies to begin to address impacts on the ground. They listened. Over the course of the campaign, we saw food giants like Nestlé, Mondelez, Mars, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, and Kellogg change their policies for people and the planet.”


Many of the companies rated feature in our Company Ratings section.



This story has been added to our corporate database. The database powers all our live product guides, giving the score for each company on our rankings tables. Find out more about how we rate companies.







Full News Archive


Ethical news archive going back to July 2009.

Read More