Oxfam Spurs Transparency Conversation Between Consumers and Supermarkets

Americans have seen the power of their activism make a change. From boycott hashtags, student protests and outspoken employees, consumers have been a driving force for progress on social and environmental issues. But they are not always equipped to start a direct dialogue with brands about complex issues. Oxfam recognized that issue and is arming consumers with facts to help facilitate a conversation with supermarkets around the world.

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Oxfam, a global NGO dedicated to ending the injustice of poverty, recently launched the Behind the Barcodes campaign focused on the issue of human suffering within food supply chains. As part of the campaign, Oxfam reviewed the public policies, statements and commitments of 16 major supermarkets to create a “Supermarket Scorecard” that grades stores on their transparency and accountability around treatment of workers, farmers and women  –  generating an overall score that consumers can quickly look-up on the campaign website. Oxfam hopes the scorecard will encourage companies to share more information regarding their supply chains with customers, suppliers, workers and governments, which would spur honest and more effective conversations with those stakeholders around the solutions to the issue. Consumers curious about the score of their supermarket can find the scorecard on a webpage dedicated to the campaign. In addition to learning their supermarket score, visitors are encouraged to “write a personal message to [their] supermarket to ask them to help end the human suffering behind the food they sell” and are provided with a letter writing guide. To make the process even easier, the webpage also includes a form where consumers can give their supermarket feedback regarding its score and ask about specific policies it is putting into action to make improvements.

Eighty-five percent of consumers want companies to tell them what they’re doing to operate more responsibly. However, supply chain transparency is a complex issue that many consumers are ill prepared to engage in. Oxfam took the extra step, not only providing consumers with streamlined information to raise awareness, but also creating a platform that allowed shoppers to join the conversation and close the gap between them and their supermarkets.