Supply Scan

News from across the food supply chain.

Companies Get Failing Grades on Environmental Impact

Concluding over a year’s worth of research, Oxfam America released grades ranking ten of the largest food and beverage manufactures on their social and environmental policies. Seven categories were used to compile the rankings, ranging from equal pay and treatment of women to transparency in business disclosures.

The ten companies studied include Associated British Foods, Coca Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Pepsico and Unilever. All of them failed, stated Oxfam America.

However, the organization’s president, Raymond C. Offenheiser, wants the report to be more than an open criticism of the companies and hopes is prompts a “race to the top.”

Coca-Cola and Kellogg have responded to the report and say they are making an effort to recommit to sustainability and transparency.

Oxfam America states that it is willing to change grades as it sees company performance improve.


Whole Foods to Label GMO Foods by 2018

Whole Foods is the first national grocer in the U.S. to commit to labeling GMO foods, which the company says it will begin in 2018.

Genetically modified foods have been drawing increased scrutiny in recent years prompting health advocates to demand the information be included on labels, while food producers and others contend such a move is unnecessary and costly.

Whole Foods says non-GMO products and organics are the two fastest growing segments for its non-perishable items.

The grocery chain also has seven stores in the UK, where labeling is already required for foods that contain GMO ingredients.


Sustainable Food Packaging Using Welsh Ryegrass

UK food retailer Waitrose is teaming up with two Welsh universities to explore the use of Welsh ryegrass to make sustainable food packaging.

The Sustainable Ryegrass Products (STARS) initiative will be jointly led by the BioComposites Centre at Bangor University and the Institute of Biological Environmental & Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University, along with Waitrose and other industry partners.

Dr. Adam Charlton of Bangor University’s Bio-composites Centre said a goal of the project is to create products with a lower carbon output than those produced from oil.

He added that, “We don’t want to displace existing agricultural activity, but aim to provide farmers with an opportunity to diversify and find alternative applications for surplus grass produced in the UK.”


Canadian Grocery Sector Stays Strong During Recession

New research from IBISWorld shows that despite tough economic times over the past five years, supermarkets and grocery stores throughout Canada grew their business.

According to the research firm, “Contrary to recessionary spending patterns experienced by many other retail industries, supermarkets and grocery stores benefited from lower per capita disposable income levels because many consumers chose to purchase food from this industry rather than eat at restaurants.”

At the same time, the sector has responded to competitive pressures “by entering into a consolidation phase,” said IBISWorld analysts. “Major players like Loblaw Companies and Sobeys Inc. have been acquiring independent grocery chains to expand their reach and gain leverage with food wholesalers and suppliers. Furthermore, these players have been upgrading their establishments, improving their customer loyalty programs and giving significantly more retail space to organic and ethnic foods.”