The food and drink we rely on daily for sustenance and enjoyment can have their origins in supply chains that are detrimental to those that harvest and process the raw materials that go into their production.

This past September, KnowtheChain, a resource for companies and investors to understand and address forced labor risks within their global supply chains, released their 2018 report evaluating 38 of the largest global companies in the food and beverage industry on their forced labor policies and practices. This is a follow-up to their initial 2016 report on the sector.

The report finds that while the majority of the 38 companies have improved their disclosure and practices since 2016, the average score across the benchmark remains low at 30 out of 100. Ranked across seven benchmark themes, companies scored the highest on the theme of commitment and governance with an average score of 55, and lowest on the themes of worker voice and recruitment, at 19 and 16 respectively. Other themes measured include traceability and risk assessment; purchasing practices; monitoring; and remedy.

“Forced labor remains a major problem in the production of popular food and beverage products,” said Kilian Moote, Project Director for KnowTheChain. “While it’s encouraging to see some companies making additional commitments since the 2016 benchmark, progress for workers is not moving fast enough. Companies across the board must do better to make demonstrable improvements for workers.”

Resources at KnowtheChain feature company profiles, a company comparison, and key findings by theme, as well as methodology.

KnowTheChain is a project of Humanity United, maintained in partnership with the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), Sustainalytics, and Verité. Verité’s role in this collaboration is to provide advice and resources for companies to improve their performance in the areas where Sustainalytics and BHRRC’s research has identified as lacking.