Campaign News

A race to the top: New update on food and beverage companies progress

I remember the time my dad taught me to ride my pink Huffy bike in our driveway. It had white trim and wheels and multicolored tassels on either handle. Once I mastered the concept of maintaining my balance, I was soon riding my bike on the sidewalk and then the street.

I would challenge my older siblings, cousins, or neighbors to ride with me. Before you knew it, we were racing every day after school and on the weekends. At first when we got together we would ride our bikes from the top of the street to the stop sign and back. And with each successive race we would go a bit further, making the race that much more challenging.

We weren’t massive global companies; just kids having fun and pushing ourselves and each other to strive further and go faster. But today, I’m also involved in a “race to the top” through this initiative called Behind the Brands.

Together, we’re proving that when we create the right circumstances we create the environment where an amazing race to the top is possible. We are not only pushing the companies but ourselves to do and expect more. Companies, with our help, can become more socially sustainable by shifting business practices in such a way that board room executives are also concerned with the people and sourcing of natural resources in their supply chain.

And we’re winning. Over the last 18 months Behind the Brands supporters like you have moved every company we’ve publicly targeted to improve its policies, most recently by shifting General Mills and Kellogg to measure, declare, and cut climate emissions across their supply chains.

But it doesn’t stop there. Oxfam policy experts have just reviewed these companies’ policies and found that our pressure is moving the wider industry too. You can see in the infographic here how much the 10 biggest food and beverage companies have changed.

Since the last update of the Behind the Brands scorecard in February 2014, all of the Big 10 have published new policies or assessments relating to the issues covered within the campaign. The latest update of the scorecard sees all companies apart from Danone improving their score in at least one of the seven themes and two companies General Mills and Unilever improve their scores on four of the seven themes. The greatest improvements in score have been recorded by PepsiCo (with an increase of 11% since February 2014), followed by the company previously ranked 10th, General Mills (with an increase of 9%). The two companies at the top of the scorecard, Nestlé and Unilever also saw significant increases of 6% and 7% respectively.

Over the past 18 months we have watched this amazing race play out. We’ve continued to engage companies, seen the companies themselves push each other forward, and generated public support for broad and swift changes. The biannual scorecard update has helped to change the equation. Together we are raising the stakes—and making progress in the fight against poverty and hunger.

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