Minimum social standards across the entire product range

Even with conventionally produced goods, we are committed to ensuring that minimum social standards are met. By this we mean proper remuneration, adherence to regulations governing working hours and functioning social dialogue, among other things.

Over the last ten years, we have worked hard with various partners to achieve minimum social standards in fruit and vegetable cultivation and at large production facilities in developing countries and emerging markets.

GRASP guarantees good social practice

In 2005, together with GlobalG.A.P., the world’s largest organization monitoring standards in the agricultural sector, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (German organization for international cooperation – GIZ), we initiated the GlobalG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice (GRASP) project. Our common goal is to establish certain basic criteria of good social practice in agriculture in high-risk countries. GRASP prescribes 13 clear areas for control, including:

    • Payment of legally defined minimum wages
    • Adherence to a maximum working time of 60 hours per week – even at harvest time
    • Guidelines for improvement measures in production

GRASP hits the mark thanks to its practical efficiency

Stakeholder workshops defined the areas for control in an initial phase ending in 2007. The suitability of the areas for control was checked in a series of more than 30 test audits, conducted in Spain, Morocco, Vietnam, Kenya and Brazil. Our fruit and vegetable suppliers have agreed to implement GRASP and be inspected by independent external agencies. Today, around 6,500 men and women employed in our supply chain benefit from the implementation of GRASP social standards. More than 70 per cent of our total turnover of fruit and vegetables cultivated in high-risk countries is now produced in compliance with these social standards.

GRASP: leading the way by example

Thanks to its user-friendly, cost-effective approach, GRASP has proved to be highly effective. Many other retailers have now instructed their producers to implement these guidelines, too. As a result, the number of producers complying with the GRASP standards increased to as many as 7,000 in 2014. They employ some 120,000 men and women who now benefit from improved working conditions in the agricultural sector.

More on GRASP

BSCI: commitment to social standards in the processing industries

Today, more than 1,000 trading companies subscribe to the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI). We joined the initiative in 2005, endorsing the BSCI Code of Conduct, which is based mainly on the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The BSCI implementation process includes raising awareness, round-table discussions with authorities and unions, and regular audits carried out by accredited inspection bodies.

Joint audits allow BSCI to exploit synergies

Thanks to BSCI, trading companies use the same criteria to carry out audits, and thus mutually recognize each others’ results. This is much more efficient than each company having to check each individual supplier itself. It also means that the companies taking part in the initiative have greater bargaining power and can join forces to demand higher standards. Child labour is thus now rarely to be found in exporting companies, for example, China has modified its labour laws to comply with Western laws, and in Thailand, too, people have succeeded in reducing working hours and increasing wages.

Our BSCI process

Measured in terms of turnover, 97 per cent of our direct non-food suppliers in high-risk countries now endorse the BSCI process. The proportion achieving the BSCI status “good”, BSCI audit “improvement needed”, SA8000 certification or ICTI certification was 90 per cent at the end of 2014.

Our audits are carried out on a step-by-step basis, taking risks into account:

  1. Signing of the Code of Conduct
    First, transparency must be created regarding the suppliers’ production facilities. On signing the BSCI Code of Conduct, the suppliers undertake to comply with the requirements set out in it concerning the environment, discrimination, forced labour, child labour, working hours, wages, working conditions, living accommodation and freedom of assembly, as well as obeying the laws of the relevant country.

  2. Self-assessment by the producer
    The next step is a self-assessment carried out by the producer of the prevailing working conditions in the business and any need for adjustment. At the same time, the self-assessment establishes whether a business can be audited directly or whether a training programme on social management is necessary first. In East Asia and South-East Asia, the buying office of the Eurogroup in Hong Kong supervises the producers as they go through the BSCI process. The audits of the production facilities are carried out by specially trained and independent auditors who are accredited by Social Accountability International (SAI). They establish the necessary corrective measures.

  3. Corrective measures
    The corrective measures are generally to be implemented within 6 to 12 months, after which time they are checked in a re-audit. As a BSCI participant, we are called upon to support the suppliers during the implementation of these measures.

  4. SA8000
    Businesses that have completed the BSCI process are encouraged to work towards SA8000 certification. SA8000 is currently the highest social certification standard for working conditions.

  5. Participation in BSCI through FTA membership
    Suppliers who become members of the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) and thus participate automatically in BSCI are becoming increasingly important to us. We welcome it when the suppliers become involved with BSCI and have their production facilities in high-risk countries audited on their own initiative.

Code of Conduct BSCI Primary Production

In order to improve working conditions in large-scale primary production facilities in developing countries and emerging markets, we are increasingly focusing on BSCI Primary Production (BSCI PP). In 2012, we worked closely with three businesses in Peru and Morocco on the implementation of BSCI PP. In the meantime, around 16 food production businesses are going through the BSCI PP process.

More on BSCI

Principles and topics