In February this year, Oxfam started its ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign. In that it called on major chocolate brands like Nestle, Mars and Mondelēz, who buy over 30 per cent of the cocoa grown worldwide to clean up their supply chains and ensure the women farmers get a good deal. Today, the biggest chocolate brand Mondelēz announced its commitment to the issue.
Today’s announcement by Mondelēz International comes on top of commitments last month by Mars and Nestle to address these issues. Together, Mars, Mondelēz International and Nestlé control 40 per cent of the global chocolate market.
More than 100,000 people signed petitions and took action to urge Mondelēz International and its competitors to tackle the hunger, poverty and unequal pay women cocoa farmers experience. The companies also faced a growing stream of comments on Facebook and Twitter urging them to act. As a Mondelēz International stockholder, Oxfam had also filed a shareholder’s resolution pushing for greater attention to gender issues in the supply chain, that will be withdrawn because of these commitments.
“The impact of Mondelēz International, Mars and Nestlé’s promises, if kept, will reverberate across cocoa supply chains,” said Judy Beals, campaign manager for Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Campaign. “ Empowering women cocoa farmers has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people, some of whom are earning less than $2 a day.”
“We applaud Mondelēz International’s decision to make these commitments. The company’s existing program, Cocoa Life, has built a good platform for gender-sensitive sustainability initiatives and these new commitments will expand that effort and ensure that that women benefit in the same way as men.
“Mondelēz International must follow through and show leadership to ensure all cocoa growers have the sustainable livelihood they deserve. Oxfam will continue to monitor all three companies as they turn their pledges into specific and measurable actions.”
Oxfam welcomes Mondelēz International’s commitment to:
- Conduct and publish impact assessments by third party organisations on women in their cocoa supply chains in order to understand and show how women are faring. The company will begin by publishing impact assessments in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in 2014.
- Put in place a specific action plan by April 1, 2014 that will address issues raised by the assessments and lead to the improvement of poor conditions in Ghana and Cot D’Ivoire. By 2018 Mondelēz International will publish action plans for the Cocoa Life program’s top four origin countries. Oxfam expects that these action plans will deliver better capacity towards a sustainable livelihood to women farmers and workers.
- Sign onto the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles by April 26, 2013. These principles demonstrate the company’s commitment at the CEO level to the empowerment of women across their entire operations by among other things being willing to measure and publicly report on gender equity. Mondelēz International is the first of the three major chocolate companies to sign onto the principles.
- Engage with other powerful actors in the cocoa industry to develop sector-wide programs to address gender inequality. Mondelēz International will work with industry sector organizations like the World Cocoa Foundation and certification schemes like Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade to advocate for greater focus on women’s equality.
No company too big
“This latest commitment shows that no company is too big to listen to its customers. Three of the biggest food giants in the world are changing how they operate because consumers have demanded it,” Beals said.
“We hope that the steps taken by Mars, Mondelēz International and Nestle offer an example to the rest of the food and beverage industry that consumers are paying attention to how companies impact the communities they work in. All the large food and beverage companies can and should take basic steps, like signing the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles or they will face increasing questions from their customers.
“Leaders at each and every food company should look at how they are operating and ask themselves whether they are truly contributing to building a world where everyone has enough nutritious food to eat. It is time for companies to get off the starting blocks and compete in a race to the top.”