Oxfam nudging big food companies to do right

Oxfam America thinks that it can force the world’s biggest food companies to save the environment and make life better for millions of farm workers.

A campaign called Behind the Brands, led by Oxfam International, an advocacy organization dedicated to fighting poverty, is trying to make the inner workings of the 10 biggest food companies in the world more visible.

They include General Mills, Associated British Foods, Danone, Mars, Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Unilever, PepsiCo, Nestle and Kellogg, companies which collectively control much of what we consume.

Oxfam’s goal is to nudge them by scoring them on a scale of 1 to 10 on a whole host of fronts, from worker rights to climate change.

Chris Jochnick is one of the architects of this campaign and Oxfam America’s director of private sector development. In the following radio spot, he touches on how social media is giving activists more power, why big food companies respond to pressure, and whether corporate executives are his friends or his enemies, as well as some of the tactics he and others have used to influence corporate leaders.

Tactics include speaking up as shareholders at annual meetings or earnings calls, and staging public events, such as the one featured in this YouTube video of activists in Time Square drawing attention to the plight of female cocoa farmers in Africa. These efforts led to agreements with three large chocolate companies — Mars, Mondelez and Nestle — who have committed to doing more to help the female cocoa farmers in their supply chains escape poverty.

Listen to NPR’s Dan Charles and Allison Aubrey talk with Oxfam’s Chris Jochnick

 

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