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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Something's Rotten in European Supermarkets

The majority of European supermarkets failed to take adequate responsibility for labour conditions and fair-trade relationships in their food supply chains, a new report revealed. The report, "Checked out: Are supermarkets taking responsibility for labour conditions in developing countries?" by Consumers International, examined six European countries and asked whether consumers found it easy or hard to make sustainable choices. It revealed an inadequate and, at times, contradictory approach to addressing unacceptable labour conditions in the developing world. Leading supermarkets in Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain were surveyed on their policies relating to labour conditions and trading relationships in developing countries. Although European consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact that their choices can have on others, it is clear that supermarkets' Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives do not always apply to all products. Overall, supermarket policies and codes of conduct fail to ensure that trading relationships are fair. Only six out of 17 companies reported that their policies include the provision that contributions for promotions should be voluntary. Only five out of 16 companies include a commitment to a living wage, and only three reported a complaints mechanism. However, there was also evidence of good practices. Relatively speaking, Coop Italia was found to have the most consistently good policies overall, followed by Coop Denmark. The report also shows that there is a need to incorporate issues of sustainability into all levels of decision-making.

Source: Inter Press Service News Agency