Oxfam criticizes AB Foods on development impact, praises Nestle

Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:02pm EST
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Associated British Foods scored lowest among 10 of the top food and beverage companies assessed for their social and environmental impact on poor countries, development group Oxfam said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Nestle and Unilever ranked highest for their policies on seven areas assessed by Oxfam as critical to sustainable agriculture: women, small-scale farmers, farm workers, water, land, climate change and transparency.

Oxfam said in the report that Nestle and Unilever had done more to tackle social and environmental risks within their supply chains than companies it ranked less favorably including AB Foods and Kellogg Co.

Big food and beverage companies have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years over their sourcing of raw materials, courting criticism on issues ranging from child labor on cocoa farms to the impact of palm oil plantations on rain forests.

Oxfam said it had launched the "Behind the Brands" campaign to try to assess "ubiquitous" declarations of sustainability made by food and beverage companies as well as a proliferation of corporate social responsibility programs.

"There are enormous gaps in terms of basic transparency which makes it very difficult to hold these companies to account," Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America, told a phone conference for journalists.

"The goal is not to criticize these companies for poor performance but encourage a 'race to the top'."

Oxfam ranked Nestle first, Unilever second, Coca-Cola third, PepsiCo fourth, Mars fifth, Danone and Mondelez International joint sixth, Kellogg Co and General Mills join eighth, and AB Foods in 10th place. (www.oxfam.org/behindthebrands)

AB Foods, whose brands include Twinings tea, Ryvita crackers and Ovaltine cocoa drink, rejected its ranking.   Continued...

People walk past an Oxfam store in Dalston in east London November 28, 2008. REUTERS/Simon Newman