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8 February 2013 | Adam Leach
Retailer Whole Foods Market has written to its coconut water suppliers to remind them of their responsibilities to ensure their supply chains are sustainable.
Growing global demand for coconut water, the liquid inside the coconut that is turned into a drink, has prompted the supermarket which operates in both the US and UK to send the “heads up” because its suppliers have had to rapidly expand their supply chains to cope with sales. There has been no suggestion any of the suppliers have acted in a way that contravenes Whole Foods’ policy.
In the letter Errol Schweizer, global grocery coordinator at Whole Foods Market, said: “We are sending a heads up to our coconut water suppliers to make sure that their supply chains are free of forced labor, child trafficking, discrimination and other unacceptable practices. We are also asking suppliers to be proactive in pursuing higher level ethical sourcing and sustainability certifications as well.”
Whole Foods Market already requires suppliers to be certified as sustainable by agencies the company has verified to conduct audits. It has not alleged suppliers have any of the issues it is concerned about in their supply chains. But the firm said it has not seen enough promotion of ethical practices by some of its vendors.
“As the coconut water category has grown, so has the reach of our brand’s supply chains. Unfortunately, we have seen very few brands actively market and promote their commitment to ethical sourcing and sustainability in this category. We do prioritise the few folks who have taken such heroic steps, but are now wanting to know what everybody else is doing,” added Schweizer.