Companies across the benchmark score poorly on traceability, with no company achieving a full score of 100. Nine companies do not disclose any information related to the traceability of their supply chains. The number of companies disclosing that they conduct human rights risk assessments on their supply chains is also low; with only half of the companies disclosing that they have carried out such risk assessments. A company should conduct risk assessments on its supply chains and disclose details of those assessments in order to demonstrate that it has a comprehensive understanding of where its supply chains are located as well as the associated risks.
Traceability efforts, where relevant, focus predominantly on palm oil, with 14 out of 38 companies disclosing either the names of their palm oil suppliers, countries where below first-tier suppliers are located, or the sourcing countries of palm oil. Sugar and cocoa are the next most commonly referenced commodities that companies are making efforts to trace (12 companies and nine companies, respectively).
While some companies disclose the names of some of their suppliers, Wilmar is the only company to disclose a list of its first-tier supplier names and addresses, publishing this information on both its palm oil and sugar first-tier suppliers. Since 2016, Mondelez, Nestlé, and Unilever have published the names of their palm oil suppliers. Less than a third of the companies (11 out of 38) disclose the countries where lower-tier suppliers are located (excluding commodity sourcing countries). Unilever, for instance, has published an interactive map showing the countries in which palm oil mills in its supply chains are located, with a list of mill names and locations, representing 73% of its core volumes. Twenty-six out of 38 companies disclose the sourcing countries of at least one commodity which is at risk of forced labor, while six companies give a more comprehensive overview of their sourcing countries.
Only three companies disclose information on their supply chain workforce (Nestlé) or explain how they are seeking to gather information on suppliers’ workers (Kellogg and Woolworths). Nestlé worked with the Fair Labor Association in 2016 to generate a profile of workers in its hazelnut harvesting supply chains and reported on the workforce of its two main first-tier suppliers in Turkey, including data on workers’ gender, age, literacy, languages, land-ownership, marital status, and other demographic characteristics.
Half of the companies (19 out of 38) disclose conducting a human rights risk assessment on their supply chains. Only nine of these companies disclose detail on their human rights risk assessment and make clear that it includes assessment of forced labor risks. This is disappointing given that forced labor risks are pervasive throughout numerous commodities and countries in food and beverage supply chains.
Leading companies disclose their risk assessment framework or methodology, such as sources used to inform their assessment, and describe risk assessments conducted on specific high-risk locations or commodities. Four companies (Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Tesco, and Unilever) achieve a full score for risk assessment, and each gives examples of risk assessments conducted in specific supply chain contexts. These companies also disclose forced labor risks identified in multiple tiers of their supply chains. Tesco describes the risk assessment criteria it uses for determining the vulnerability of workers in its supply chains, including country of origin, the type of work being undertaken, the type of labor (such as seasonal or agency labor), known cultural or community issues, and supply chain capability. It discloses that it has conducted a risk assessment on its seafood supply chain specifically. Tesco also makes clear that it is paying attention to emerging trends by noting that there is a decline in the number of workers applying to work in food supply chains (based on a report from the Association of Labor Providers in 2018). It states that it will monitor this risk, as where there is a shortage of labor, there is an increased risk of exploitation.
Twenty-one out of 38 companies disclose forced labor risks identified in their supply chains, though only five name risks identified in different tiers of their supply chains. Companies identify at-risk commodities across their supply chains: palm oil is the most commonly named commodity, followed by sugar, cocoa, seafood, and coffee. Beef, tea, soy, and tomatoes are cited as high risk by only a few companies. Nestlé discloses 12 commodities that it has identified as having significant labor risks, and states that forced labor risks have been identified in palm oil, cocoa, and seafood supply chains. Thirteen companies explicitly identify migrant workers or recruitment practices as a risk identified in their supply chains, either in particular countries or commodity supply chains. For example, Coca-Cola highlights risks associated with the payment of recruitment fees for migrant workers in Taiwan.
Notably, companies included in both the 2016 and 2018 benchmark have improved their average score for risk assessment since 2016, from 35/100 to 45/100. Danone, Kellogg, and PepsiCo all significantly improved their public disclosure relating to risk assessments in their supply chains. Since 2016, Danone discloses that it has conducted a risk assessment on 20 purchasing categories, with a strong focus on forced labor issues. It states that it is now targeting priority commodities and services; it has highlighted palm oil, cocoa, and sugar as high-risk commodities and disclosed the risks associated with workers employed through labor agencies. Since 2016, PepsiCo has collaborated with the non-governmental organization Shift to map the potential impacts its business has had from the perspective of rights-holders in its supply chains.