'Behind the Barcodes' - Oxfam's global supermarket campaign

22 June 2018

Oxfam have launched Behind the Barcodes a new, global campaign calling on supermarkets around the world to stamp out human suffering in their food supply chains.

Supermarkets are squeezing the price they pay for the food on our shelves, which means that food producers are increasingly struggling to feed their families. Small scale farmers and workers often don’t earn enough for a decent standard of living, and where women make up most of the workforce, the gap is even bigger. In South Africa, over 90% of surveyed women workers on grape farms reported not having had enough to eat in the previous month.

Human suffering should not be an ingredient in our food

From vegetable pickers on Italian farms, to women peeling prawns in Indonesia, millions of people who produce our food are trapped in poverty and face brutal working conditions. All this despite billion-dollar profits in the food industry.

Oxfam’s new report Ripe for Change explores new research around why people who grow our food are going hungry, and explains what can be done to change this hugely unequal system.

Scoring the supermarkets

For their Behind the Barcodes campaign, Oxfam have scored some of the biggest and fastest growing supermarkets according to their publicly available policies on key issues. These include workers’ rights, how they work with small-scale farmers, their transparency and their policies on women’s rights. Some supermarkets score better than others, but none of them have good enough policies to protect the people who produce our food.

They'll be using this scorecard – and joining with campaigners and shoppers in Germany, the Netherlands, the US, Indonesia and Thailand - to ask supermarkets to improve the lives of people in their supply chains.

Use your customer power to take action

Supermarkets hold power but they also face intense competition, meaning that they really care what their customers think.

Today, Oxfam are asking staff and supporters to send an online letter to their supermarket, calling on them to step up to the plate and improve their policies.


Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation www.esmeefairbairn.org.uk