Top Stories

January 26, 2016

Supply Chain

World’s largest palm oil trader criticised for lack of progress on deforestation

Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil processor and trader, used the Davos gathering of business leaders as an opportunity to talk up progress on its efforts to tackle deforestation in the palm oil sector. However, campaigners and industry experts say the company is yet to prove that its suppliers are not responsible for clearing forests or abusing human rights. The key sticking point according to NGOs such as Greenpeace and the Forest Peoples Programme is that Wilmar, which controls 45 percent of global palm oil trade, cannot prove that its suppliers are not responsible for ongoing deforestation. The palm oil supply chain is notoriously complex and lacking in transparency, but Greenpeace Indonesia campaigner Annisa Rahmawati believes the company should be making better progress on its commitments. “Wilmar promised that by the end of 2015 it would be able to show its palm oil suppliers were not destroying forests… Now the company talks only of ‘aspirations’. That is simply not good enough,” said Rahmawati. (The Guardian)


Eleven companies lead the Global Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare

Eleven companies occupy leadership positions in the top two tiers of the global Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare report, published today. The Business Benchmark provides an annual review of how 90 of the world’s leading food companies are managing and reporting their farm animal welfare policies and practices. Marks & Spencer, Coop Group (Switzerland), Waitrose, Noble Foods, The Co-operative Food (UK), J Sainsbury, Unilever, Cranswick, Marfrig, McDonald’s and Migros have obtained the highest marks in the ranking. BBFAW Executive Director, Nicky Amos, said, “The results show that it is realistic for companies across the world and in all sub-sectors to aspire to and achieve high scores in the Benchmark and to recognise the responsibility they hold for the welfare of animals in their supply chains.” Despite the overall progress made since 2012, some 40 percent of companies, including Burger King, Domino’s Pizza Group and Starbucks, provide little or no information on their approach to farm animal welfare. (BBFAW)


Tesco to be censured by supermarket watchdog over conduct with suppliers

Tesco is to be reprimanded by the UK supermarket watchdog over its treatment of suppliers, dealing another blow to the reputation of Britain’s biggest retailer. The Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) today revealed the findings of a year-long investigation into allegations the company breached the industry code of practice by delaying payments to suppliers and demanding extra fees. City analysts have warned that Tesco could face a £500 million fine for the accounting scandal, with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the closing stages of its investigation. The GCA has the power to name and shame companies and issue public recommendations. However, it will not be able to fine Tesco because the grocer allegedly committed the offences before the government handed the GCA the power to fine a company up to one percent of its annual revenue last year. Shares in Tesco fell almost three percent on Monday. (The Guardian)


Apple made more diverse hires in 2015 than any other year

New statistics from Apple show that it has made progress toward increasing its workforce’s racial and gender diversity. The company said that 11 percent of its new US hires within the past year were black, 13 percent were Hispanic and 19 percent were Asian. More than half of all Apple employees, 54 percent, identify as white. When it came to gender diversity, 35 percent of Apple’s new hires globally were women. The least diverse section is Apple’s leadership: 72 percent of employees in leadership roles are men and 63 percent are white. Apple said it had “hired more diverse candidates” in the past 12 months than in any other year to date. Apple’s board, however, did vote last week to reject a shareholder proposal to institute an “accelerated recruitment policy” at the firm that would target underrepresented minorities, saying that it would be too difficult to implement. “We believe that the proposal is unduly burdensome and not necessary because Apple has demonstrated to shareholders its commitment to inclusion and diversity, which are core values for our company,” the board said. (Washington Post)


New study tracks nitrogen footprint of international trade

A new study by Research Geoscience maps for the first time the ‘nitrogen footprint’ of 188 countries, finding that around a quarter of emissions comes from commodities traded across country borders. Nitrogen emissions have a number of impacts on the environment and human health, contributing to air pollution and acid rain, as well as climate change. The findings show that just four countries – China (20 percent), India (11 percent), the US (10 percent) and Brazil (6 percent) – are responsible for 47 percent of global nitrogen emissions. Countries such as the US and Russia are “net importers” of nitrogen emissions, meaning the nitrogen they emit when producing commodities for export is less than the equivalent emissions for imports. For countries such as China and India, the opposite applies – they are “net exporters”, meaning they bear the higher environmental and health costs of nitrogen pollution. Research Geoscience notes that growth in international trade means policy should be designed both according to where the pollution is being emitted and where products are being consumed. (Eco-Business)



Image source: Chicken Farm by Wiol5 / Public Domain