Big food lagging in climate change initiatives: Oxfam

Oxfam released a report today calling out ‘laggards’ within the food and beverage industry who they say need to do more to address climate change.

The report titled Standing on the Sidelines – why food and beverage companies must do more to tackle climate change, lists Kellogg’s and General Mills among 10 global food brands that need to “up their game” on reducing emissions within their supply chain.

Kelly Dent, Oxfam Australia’s food policy specialist said that the top 10 food and beverage companies emit more greenhouse gases than Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway combined.

“If they were a single country, they would be the 25th most polluting country in the world,” said Dent.

“The ‘Big 10’ companies could cut their emissions by 80 million tonnes by 2020 – when global emissions need to start reducing in order for the world to stay within a safe climate – which would be the equivalent to taking all Australian cars off the road.”

The report lists the “Big 10” as Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever. According to Oxfam, half of the emissions from these companies come from the production of agricultural materials from their supply chains, however these emissions are not covered by the reduction targets that the companies have set.

According to Dent, a number of the companies listed have admitted that climate change was already starting to impact on their profitability.

Unilever allegedly loses around $444 million per year, while General Mills reported losing 62 days of production in the first fiscal quarter of 2014 alone due to extreme weather events that are a result of a changing climate.

“Too many of today’s food and beverage giants are crossing their fingers and hoping that climate change won’t disrupt the food system, imagining someone else will fix it,” says Dent.

“As companies that are deeply exposed to climate impacts, it’s in the interest of food and beverage companies to see a more ambitious national and global response. We are therefore urging them to also speak up for stronger government policies and programs to tackle climate change.”


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