Unilever leader in eradicating forced labor from it’s supply chains

KnowTheChain evaluated 38 of the largest global food and beverage companies on the forced labor policies and procedures that each company has in place. This report marks KnowTheChain’s second food and beverage benchmark since it was launched in 2016. Unilever remains the top-scoring company.

The 38 Food and Beverage companies were assessed across the benchmark’s seven themes, which were developed to capture the key areas where companies need to take action to eradicate forced labor from their supply chains: commitment and governance; traceability and risk assessment; purchasing practices; recruitment; worker voice; monitoring; and remedy. There are a total of 23 indicators across the seven themes. Each theme is weighted equally and determines the company’s overall benchmark score on a scale from 0 to 100.

Key findings from the 2018 benchmark include:

  • Unilever remains the top-scoring company (69/100), while Kellogg (66/100) overtook both Coca-Cola (62/100) and Nestlé (58/100) to secure the second-highest score.
  • Five companies score below 10 out of 100, including meat company WH Group (0/100), which owns the world’s largest pork business; the packaged foods company Almarai (0/100); Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group (1/100), one of the largest global dairy companies; the US energy drinks company Monster Beverage (4/100); and the Mexican company Fomento Económico Mexicano (FEMSA) (7/100), the largest bottler for Coca-Cola.
  • The average score across the benchmark is 30 out of 100. While some improvements can be identified in company practices since 2016, the average score remains low, indicating that all benchmarked companies need to take further action to address forced labor risks across commodities and tiers.
  • Worker voice and recruitment are the lowest scoring themes of the benchmark. While 18 out of 38 companies have a policy in place prohibiting worker-paid recruitment fees, only four require reimbursement of fees, and no company discloses evidence that fees have been reimbursed. On average, companies take little or no action to listen to, engage with, or empower workers in their supply chains. However, it is positive that some leading companies have begun to disclose examples of engaging with workers across various commodity supply chains.
  • There is a noticeable lack of remedy in the sector, despite increased company adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including access to remedy. Of the 12 companies for which KnowTheChain identified forced labor allegations, only Nestlé, Tesco, and Wilmar outlined some steps taken to address the allegations.Where detail on commodities was provided by companies, disclosure focuses on palm oil, despite the fact that numerous other commodities are at risk of forced labor in agricultural supply chains, including beef, coffee, rice, sugar, tea, tomatoes, and wheat. Company traceability disclosures and efforts to source raw materials responsibly focus predominantly on palm oil, with only some companies disclosing efforts taken on seafood, sugar, and cocoa.
  • Company disclosure focuses on policies and processes, without evidence of the impact those processes have in practice. For example, 25 companies disclose that a grievance mechanism is in place for suppliers’ workers, but only three clearly explain how the mechanism is communicated to workers, and only four publish data showing that the mechanism is used.

Download the report (pdf)

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