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Climate change could be the single biggest threat to winning the fight against hunger. Yet some food companies are actually making the problem worse.
The world’s 10 biggest food and beverage companies are not only highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change—they’re also contributing to the problem. A new study from Oxfam America found that these 10 companies (which include Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Unilever) emit so much greenhouse gas through their supply chains that if they were a single country, they would be the 25th most polluting in the world.
The study also shows that some of these companies are not doing nearly enough to tackle climate change. Kellogg and General Mills (makers of popular breakfast cereals and other well-known brands) claim to be reducing their emissions, but they don’t even measure or fully disclose them, let alone have targets to reduce them. They do business with companies that worsen climate change by burning down forests to clear land and by overusing polluting fertilizers.
Climate change contributes to storms, floods, droughts and shifting weather patterns. This affects food supplies and is putting pressure on prices, causing more hunger and poverty. Experts predict that by 2050 there will be 50 million more people made hungry because of climate change.
“Too many of today’s food and beverage giants are crossing their fingers and hoping that climate change won’t disrupt the food system,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “The ‘Big 10’ food companies generate over $1 billion a day and have great power to influence global food chains. If the companies who profit most from a safe and reliable food supply won’t help stop the climate crisis, who will?”
The “Big 10” should be capable of cutting their combined emissions by a further 80 million tons by 2020. This would be equivalent to taking all of the cars in Los Angeles, Beijing, London, and New York off the road.
Oxfam is calling on General Mills and Kellogg to lead the sector towards more responsible policies and practices. We’re asking them to:
- Know and show: Disclose emissions from their supply chains that contribute to climate change and drive global hunger.
- Act: Commit to clear, science-based targets and actions that reduce emissions from their operations and supply chains.
- Speak up: Use their power and influence to call on governments and businesses to do what’s needed to protect the future of our food.
You can help. Hundreds of thousands of you have already joined Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign calling on the world’s biggest food companies to improve their policies on everything from women’s equality to land rights. Thanks to you, giants like PepsiCo and Nestlé have taken concrete steps to improve their policies—and the industry has taken notice.
Even the biggest companies care what customers think. So when you speak, they listen. Tell General Mills and Kellogg to help stop climate change from making people hungry. Add your voice at behindthebrands.org.