Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Not so Sustainable

Coca-Cola, Nestle and Mars fail to look after the farmers producing the raw materials they rely on every day to make a big fat profit. Associated British Food (ABF) received the lowest rating with 13 out of 70 points. They produce goods such as Silver Spoon Sugar, Ovaltine and Kingsmill. Shockingly, the cereal shelf favorite Kellogg’s was also pretty poor, scoring 16 out of 70.

These rating are based on how their production impacts the local community, the environment and the welfare of the smallholders at the bottom of the pile. So, how and what are they tested on?
As part of their ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign, Oxfam measure the ‘big 10’ brands in seven categories. 

These categories are:
·         Transparency of their supply chains and general operations
·         How they ensure the rights of workers
·         How they protect women’s rights
·         Their management of water
·         Their management of land
·         Their policies to reduce the impact of climate change
·         How they ensure the rights of the smallholders growing their ingredients

How all of the Big 10 fared

What confuses me is that, when asked to comment on their poor ratings, big companies such as coca-cola recited something as fleetingly satisfying as the very drink they are famed for. The trigger words are rife. ‘Sustainable…..sustainable…..sustainable’.  The meaning of this word has been debated for years. I acknowledge that Oxfam and Coca-cola will have varying ideas on just how ‘to-the-letter’ production can be, however it seems as though the ‘big 10’ have to readdress their definition of sustainability if these results are anything to go by.

In the treatment of women category, the management of land and its climate change policies, ABF scored just 1 out of 10. At a time when the British food industry is suffering from the horsemeat backlash, Oxfam have definitely struck whilst the iron is hot.

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