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Danone’s position on Oxfam’s report

11 March 2013

Oxfam’s recent report calls on food companies to make upstream- supply-chain issues an integral part of their corporate policies and commitments. While Danone recognizes the value of this approach, we would like to underscore our own convictions:

– For Danone, food safety, as well as “health through food”, mean re-establishing the links that connect actors along the food chain, from farmers through to consumers, and including our own operations. Together, these components form a whole, and while the supply chain undoubtedly plays a key role upstream, processing and other downstream operations are just as important. It is essential for each actor to take the right action for its place in the chain.

– We put farming and its actors at the heart of our approach: at Danone, our ambition is to work with others to promote competitive farming that creates social, economic and nutritional value—farming that can meet the food challenges of the decades ahead.

– For any business, taking the entire value-creation chain into account is a huge challenge, especially where indirect impacts are concerned. It requires a consistent, long-term commitment, and success depends on being able to bring a large number of external stakeholders on board—suppliers, sub-contractors and farmers, to name just a few.

– Without calling into question Oxfam’s choice of critical areas, Danone takes a different approach. We base our priorities on our ability to have a significant impact and to leverage the lessons we’ve learned and the experience we’ve built up over the past 15 years. For 10 years, Danone has made the choice to participate to worldwide or European ratings – DJSI, EIRIS, VIGEO –….. that work on the entire value chain and that assess not only the commitments, but also and above all the practices and the impact measures. Our achievements have been recognized by some of them, including a 97/100 rating from the Carbon Disclosure Project, 83/100 from the DJSI, with a best in class for supplier management, etc.

To know more  (Danone’s link to their own Sustainability Report, 2011).



Oxfam’s reply

12 March 2013

It is good to see Danone has offered a public response to the findings of Oxfam’s Behind the Brands report to show consumers it is listening to their concerns. Danone is right to highlight that companies need to integrate agricultural sourcing operations and to apply long-term strategies with many stakeholders. However, the shortfalls in Danone’s policies highlighted by the Behind the Brands report cannot be explained away as simply, “a different approach”.

Danone scores low on a number of issues including the lowest possible scores on the farmers, workers and gender themes in part because it has not been transparent enough about how its supply chain policies influence these issues.  It is promising to hear Danone’s vision to “work with others to promote competitive farming that creates social, economic and nutritional value” but the company needs to go beyond these vague principles and begin to show how its policies influence THE entire supply chains. This is the only real way that Danone can be accountable for its influence on people and communities in developing countries.  We hope to see Danone improve its policies and urgently work to disclose more information about how it does business so IT can truly begin to compete in a race to the top.

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