In 2013, Oxfam initiated a groundbreaking campaign, Behind the Brands, to challenge 10 of the largest food and beverage companies to improve their economic, social, and environmental performance. The campaign ranked the 10 companies on the strength of their policies on transparency, women, agricultural workers, farmers, land, water and climate change. The campaign featured three, thematic communications “spikes,” each targeting specific companies around the issues of gender, climate and land. Over 700,000 support actions were taken, investors rallied and dozens of allies and influentials around the world joined in support. As a result, several companies made notable commitments to improve the social and environmental standards across their vast supply chains, with milestones running into late 2020.
Since then, Oxfam has been engaging with companies to ensure that they follow through on their commitments, through the Behind the Brands Implementation Initiative (see annex 1). Both addressing the risks and harnessing opportunities presented in global supply chains requires that the companies make bold, meaningful commitments to climate change, land, and women’s rights and foster economic opportunities in the supply chain and in their business models – and ensure that these commitments extend to their suppliers. Oxfam committed to work with willing companies to implement commitments in order to benefit the farmers, workers and communities in their supply chains, including driving commitments deep into practice, extending commitments to suppliers and developing implementation models in the global South.
The commitments resulting from Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign were at the forefront of social and environmental change. However, companies in the F&B sector have since made other social impact commitments, as have companies in the information and communications technology, apparel, finance, retail and other sectors. Today, the private sector has begun to set or is gearing up for a next generation of commitments, tied to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs). Oxfam seeks to better understand the trends, market dynamics and issues influencing this next generation of commitments. We are interested in trends around the Big 10 F&B companies, as globalization of supply chains has had a tremendous impact on the lives and livelihoods of small-scale farmers and plantation workers across the developing world. While work in the agricultural sector may be fueling valuable export and domestic growth, as well as critical commodities for the Big 10, the farmer share of end consumer price is shrinking; women farmers and gender norms are particularly impacted. We are also interested in trends in the enabling industries around the food system, and trends in relevant sectors that F&B companies could learn from. This includes trends in retail, finance, and technology sectors. In addition, are there examples of groundbreaking commitments from other sectors and fields to harness or learn from? We are particularly interested in trends related to a next generation of commitments around climate change, gender, land rights, human rights, inequality, workers and farmer income, and around those with traction in the global South. We are also interested in how these trends are impacted by the wider political economy landscape and shifts in the political and regulatory environment both in the global North and in the global South. Finally, will the COVID-19 pandemic lead to structural changes in how the food system is organized and how can the crisis be leveraged to create more inclusive and resilient value chains in the future?
Oxfam seeks to commission a research report that explores the next frontier of company commitments, and that will help inform Oxfam’s long-term vision on where we would like to see private sector leadership in the future. This moment presents an opportunity to tell a bigger story about shifting private sector responsibilities and accountability worldwide. Specifically, it offers an opportunity for Oxfam to speak about the new wave of considerations companies ought to take into account when sourcing in the global South and for us to speak to the kinds of practices we hope to see from leading suppliers in producer countries.
The report will provide an expert analysis and trend-spotting of the next frontier of company commitments in the food sector and beyond, to help inform Oxfam’s long-term vision. Oxfam has a particular interest in sustainability trends driven by sourcing from the Global South. The scoping research should 1) explore stand out examples of progress and shortcomings around implementation of previous 2020 commitments; 2) analyze wider industry trends and ongoing challenges within the food and beverage sector relevant to the key topics of climate change, gender, land rights, human rights, inequality, workers (farm and plantation) and small scale producers/farmers; 3) highlight key expectations for the food sector and broader areas of leadership needed around corporate responsibility and accountability and supply chain disclosure; and 4) comment on how lasting change can be achieved within the food and beverage sector.
A budget of USD $23,700 is available to support this research – inclusive of VAT.
 Associated British Foods/Illovo, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever
Kindly submit expressions of interest (maximum of eight pages) to Suzanne Zweben, [email protected] copying Nnenne Moneke, [email protected] by Monday, June 1st at 5pm Boston time. Please include examples of prior work on visioning and trend analysis.
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