by Caitlin Shepherd, Community and Activism Campaigner, Oxfam in the south west
Last Friday might not have been a big date on everyone’s festive calendar, but for Oxfam supporters from around the UK it was time to join one yearly party in style: the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Associated British Foods (ABF) in London’s West End.
We assembled at the venue bright and early, providing information and a conversation topic for shareholders as they arrived. Almost every attendee received a copy of our leaflet on land rights, highlighting the need for ABF to introduce publically available policies which make sure it’s not involved in land grabs – where communities are thrown off their land to make way for companies to grow commodities like sugar, palm oil and soy.
The campaign also had a presence inside, with shareholders and Oxfam supporters Roger James and Lee Cookson asking tough questions as the board of directors looked on. These included what the company is doing to ensure poor communities are protected from unfair land deals, and in particular what policies are in place to make sure this approach can be found throughout their supply chain.
This is just the latest action of the Behind the Brands campaign. Since October, we’ve been calling on ABF – the biggest sugar producer in Africa – to implement zero tolerance policies for land grabs in their supply chain. Global soft drinks giant Coca-Cola has already agreed to change their policies for the better, so now’s the time for ABF to build land justice into the fabric of their business, too.
We look forward to further constructive communications with ABF, but in the meantime watch this blog for updates on how public pressure can persuade both ABF and Pepsico that good policies are in everyone’s best interest.