Food and beverage

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0443/Cullen

The Food and Beverage (F&B) industry includes all companies involved in producing, processing, packaging, transporting, and distributing edible goods - from the farm (or factory) to the fork. The F&B industry is one of the world's largest industries with regards to both revenue and employment.

The risks to children's rights violations are present throughout this complex industry's 'value chain', particularly during the following stages.
Stage 2 – Production of 'inputs'. As this stage consists mainly of agricultural activities, children can be involved in child labour or human trafficking. It is also during this stage that companies can have a significant impact on the environment and on communities - for example, on water and sanitation as well as forced displacement of communities. Consequently, a child's right to development, education, health and recreation can be affected directly.

Stage 4 – Processing and manufacturing. During this stage, companies influence the type of food products that will be available, and the way they will be presented. A child's right to health can be violated in two ways: the use of unhealthy ingredients added to products, and the pollution generated by the processes. Unethical marketing practices targeted at children are also found during this stage, impacting children’s right to information.

Stage 6 – Consumption and consumerism. It is during this stage that children actually consume the goods that were produced by the industry. Their right to health and development can therefore be directly impacted.

Like all companies, F&B companies have an obligation to ensure that children's rights are respected and supported throughout their business practices, and many are indeed doing so. F&B companies also have a unique opportunity to proactively support children's rights.