Joining the dots…

Campaigning for change article written on the 25 Oct 2013

Last week was an exciting week with thousands of Australians taking part in Eat Local Feed Global while across the world campaigners visited the headquarters of global food giants to demand that they do more to prevent land grabs that are kicking poor farmers off their land in order to grow sugar for popular drinks. It may not be easy to see how these two things are connected, but they have more in common than you might think.

By Clancy Moore, GROW Campaign Coordinator

Thousands of Australians took part in Eat Local Feed Global to mark World Food Day. Almost 400 community groups, businesses, universities, state government departments, cafes, community gardens, and Oxfam supporters like you came together over food to. It was also an exciting week for our ongoing Behind the Brands work with stunts taking place outside the headquarters of food giants, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, in the USA, the Netherlands and Canada. But what’s the connection between the two?

Both Eat Local Feed Global and Behind the Brands are part of Oxfam’s GROW campaign. At its heart, GROW has a simple message: too many people are going hungry because the food system does not work for those most in need. Despite the world producing more than enough food, 1 in 8 people go to bed hungry every day.

Reducing this hunger will require consumers, governments and companies to do their bit and Behind the Brands focuses our attention on the specific role that a small number of very large companies can play in reducing hunger. As part of the GROW campaign, Behind the Brands is shining a spotlight on the 10 most powerful of these companies including Coke and Nestle.

These food and beverage companies rely on farmers and workers to produce ingredients like sugar and cocoa that go into our favourite foods and beverages. But they need to do more to make sure that those who feed the world don’t go hungry themselves.

With great power…

With great power comes great responsibility. Our view is that food and beverage companies, and particularly “the Big 10”, should be aware of, make publicly available information about, and take action to reduce, the hunger and poverty in the way they do business.

Oxfam is in talks with most of the 10 biggest food and beverage companies and we’re working with them to improve their policies and practices. But we need their customers to show the big brands that they can’t get away with inaction. They need to do more to end the injustices that cause 1 in 8 people to go hungry. That’s what Behind The Brands is about.

In February, over 100,000 Oxfam supporters called on Mars, Nestle and Mondelez (Cadbury) to address the poverty and inequality faced by women cocoa farmers. And we won. All three companies made public commitments and took important steps toward tackling gender inequality including signing on to the UN Women Empowerment Principles.

Two weeks ago, we asked Oxfam supporters to call on Coke, Pepsi and Associated British Foods to make sure their sugar doesn’t lead to land grabs and your response has been fantastic. 180,000 people have already joined the campaign. We know that land grabs are leaving people homeless and hungry – it’s time we put a stop to them.  You can tell Coke, Pepsi and ABF to help stop lands grabs by adding your name here.