27 October 2008 | Paul Snell
Coca-Cola discovered 11 cases of child labour at potential suppliers by changing the way it selects vendors.
According to the firm's 2007/2008 Sustainability Review, the company dealt with the issues before it purchased anything from the suppliers.
The company was able to identify the problems because it had introduced an audit that measured compliance with the firm's Supplier Guiding Principles - which detail responsible workplace and environmental standards - in its supplier selection process.
Pre-certification audits also reduced the number of potential Chinese promotional merchandise suppliers from 300 to 22. In 2007 the beverage firm conducted 1,313 compliance audits, a 28 per cent rise compared with the 1,029 audits carried out in 2006.
Coca-Cola joined the AIM-PROGRESS industry association last year to share knowledge on improving social compliance in the supply chain.
The drinks company also increased its spend with diverse suppliers. The firm spent $366 million (£237.4 million) with more than 400 first and second-tier minority and women-owned businesses in 2007, compared with $297 million (£193 million) the year before.
The firm, which is one of the world's biggest purchasers of products such as sugar, citrus and coffee, said it was at the "preliminary stages" of incorporating sustainability into its procurement of ingredients.