Good Shopping Guide offers critical eye on confectionery manufacturers’ ethical sourcing

An independent review organisation, The Good Shopping Guide, has released its first ever ethical appraisal of 31 confectionery brands, assessing them on their approach to the environment, animals and society, writes Neill Barston.

As the UK-based body, which has evaluated a total of 65 wider industry sectors over the past two decades, noted, it set out to evaluate the performance of a range of key businesses amid wider consumer awareness and expectations surrounding sustainable manufacturing.

According to the group’s findings, brands owned by Mondelēz International and Nestlé received the worst overall score of 29 (out of a possible 100), which includes favourites such as Wine Gums, Jelly Tots, Jelly Babies and Fruit Pastilles. Furthermore, Skittles and Starbursts, owned by Mars Inc., also received a low score of 36. The highest scoring brand was Free From Fellows, with an outstanding score of 98, followed by Jealous Sweets, with an excellent score of 94. Additionally, Candy Kittens, Just Wholefoods and YUMMA each received a high score of 79.

According to the Good Shopping Guide, it stated that in terms of its methodology, which it has claimed has used examination of individual CSR performance reports, the low scores received by Nestlé, Mondelēz and Mars brands are a result of the companies’ being reportedly found to be subject to environmental, human rights and animal welfare issues – though as Confectionery Production has previously covered, the businesses have all committed to their respective sustainability programmes within cocoa supply chains, and across their wider operations. This includes Mars Wrigley’s Cocoa For Generations scheme, which aims to place $1billion over a decade into engaging with practical support for core supply chain communities within its value chain.

As the Good Shopping Guide stated, its reviews for Nestlé, Mondelēz and Mars were also influenced by the companies’ respective use of palm oil or palm oil derivatives in their sweets, which it cited as ‘a major concern’, given that all wider sector concerns had reportedly been raised in relation to their sourcing practices. This includes criticism fro environmental and human rights groups such as Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and Global Witness. According to the report, such criticisms not only point to the environmental harm caused by palm oil sourcing, such as its role in contributing to deforestation, but also the impact on local communities and endangered species living in regions that have been exploited by palm oil producers.

Conversely, the research also found many ethical and sustainable Sweets brands that have made a commitment to being palm oil free. This includes high-scoring brands such as Free From Fellows, Jealous Sweets, Candy Kittens. According to the report authors, those brands scoring highest were credited with proactively attempting to address the animal welfare concerns in the industry by offering vegetarian and vegan sweets.

Isabella Woodward, Lead Researcher at The Good Shopping Guide said: “We are delighted to see so many ethical Sweets brands seeking to address ethical and sustainability issues within the Confectionery industry. By purchasing vegan and palm oil free sweets, consumers can be reassured that their Halloween treats are not contributing to animal cruelty and environmental degradation.”

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