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Sugar-coated Conflict

As global demand for sugar increases, so does the rush for land to grow it.  Around the world poor farmers are being kicked off their land to grow sugar, leaving them hungry and homeless.

Transparency behind the brands: murky waters? Courtesy Oxfam America (

In 2013, Oxfam, one of the co-organizers of our international conference on Scaling-up Strategies to Secure Community Land and Resources Rights, launched “Behind the Brands”, part of its GROW campaign.  GROW calls on governments and companies to build a better food system: one that sustainably feeds a growing population and empowers poor people to earn a living, feed their families, and thrive.  “Behind the Brands” tracks ten of the world‟s biggest food and beverage companies and assesses their policies and commitment in helping to create this system.  These ‘Big 10′ are Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Unilever. Collectively, they generate revenues of over $1.1bn a day.  The Behind the Brands scorecard ranks the Big 10’s policies and commitments in seven critical areas: women, small-scale farmers, farm workers, water, land, climate change, and transparency.  Of these themes, land is the one on which the companies score worst.  The Big 10 lack adequate policies to ensure that local communities’ land rights are protected along their supply chains, and none has declared zero tolerance of “land grabbing”.

Access to land for small-scale farmers is a pivotal part of a better food system. Access to common lands provides communities with water, fodder, fruits, nuts, and other resources – often vitally important for women to feed themselves and their families. This paper sets out how one crop – sugar – has been driving large-scale land acquisitions and land conflicts at the expense of small-scale food producers and their families.

What do the world’s biggest food and beverage companies have to do with land grabs?  More than you might think.  Find out more:  

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