International aid agency Oxfam has criticised the world's biggest food and beverage companies for their poor social and environmental policies.
In a statement on its latest scorecard, which rated the 10 biggest drink and grocery brands on seven social and environmental factors, Oxfam said that the companies' ethical policies are not fit for modern purposes and need a major shake-up.
The "Big 10" food and beverage companies, which together make $1bn (€766m, £658m) a day, are failing millions of people in developing countries who supply land, labour, water and commodities, Oxfam noted.
"None of the ten biggest food and beverage companies are moving fast enough to turn around a 100-year legacy of relying on cheap land and labour to make mass products at huge profits, with unacceptably high social and environmental costs. No company emerges with a good overall score. Across the board all ten companies need to do much more," Jeremy Hobbs, executive director for Oxfam International, said in a statement.
The criteria by which Oxfam rated the companies include transparency of supply chains and operations, management of land and water use, climate change, ensuring the rights of workers and farmers, and efforts to protect women's rights. The companies were given scores ranging from 0-10 for each of the seven factors.
In the scorecard, UK food giant Associated British Foods (ABF), which owns brands such as Kingsmill, Twinings and Ryvita, was the last with a score of 13 out of 70. ABF scored very low in transparency of supply chains, treatment of land, women and climate change.
Kellogs and General Mills came in at the second last position with a total score of 16. Both the companies scored low for their treatment of land and farmers.
Swiss food giant Nestle was ranked No 1 in the scorecard, but it scored only 38 out of 70. Unilever came in at the second place with a score of 34, followed by Coca Cola which scored 29.
Other companies in the "Big 10" list are Pepsico (22), Mars (21), Danone (20) and Mondelez (20).
In line with the poor results, Oxfam has launched a Behind the Brand campaign in 12 countries, including the US, China, Brazil and across Europe, asking the public to use the increasingly influential social media to force the companies to improve their policies.
The campaign's first public action is targeting Nestle, Mondelez and Mars for their failure to address inequality faced by women who grow cocoa for their chocolate products.