Oxfam says top food brands must cut supply-chain emissions

Climate change impacts are expected to push up the price of everyday foods like breakfast cereals, and the world’s biggest brands should act to reduce the planet-warming gases emitted during their production.

In a report, the international aid group said the world’s “big 10” food and beverage companies were responsible for nearly 264 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2012. These companies are Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever

“The ‘big 10’ companies are failing to use their power responsibly and we will all suffer the consequences”, said Oxfam’s executive director Winnie Byanyima. Those consequences include rising prices for consumers. Meanwhile, the companies themselves are – by their own admission – already suffering financial costs from climate impacts including floods and droughts.

Yet despite growing evidence that climate change is bad for business, well-known brands aren’t yet doing enough to tackle their own contribution to global warming, Oxfam argues. Unilever, Coca-Cola and Nestle are relatively assertive in their policies and actions to curb climate change, while Kellogg and General Mills are two of the worst, it said.

Unilever and Coca-Cola have committed to targets to reduce emissions in their supply chains, Oxfam said. But none of the 10 have clear goals specific to their agricultural emissions, nor do they require their suppliers to set targets to reduce emissions, it added.

The international food system accounts for 25 to 27 percent of global emissions, including from the deforestation caused when farm land expands, and these emissions are growing as demand for food rises.