Lidl received the lowest score of six UK supermarkets © Mike Kemp/In PIctures/Getty Images
Lidl received the lowest score of six UK supermarkets © Mike Kemp/In PIctures/Getty Images

Supermarkets fall short in protecting supply chain workers

3 July 2019

The UK’s largest supermarkets are falling short on ensuring workers and small-scale farmers in their global supply chains are protected and fairly rewarded, according to Oxfam.

In Oxfam’s second annual supermarket scorecard, Tesco was the highest scoring supermarket for the second year for its policies to end human suffering in its food supply chain. 

Oxfam conducted an assessment of six UK supermarkets’ publicly-disclosed policies and practices in areas such as supply chain transparency and conditions for workers and farmers.

Tesco’s overall average score was 38%, an increase of 15 percentage points on last year, while Sainsbury’s and Asda remained in second and third place, averaging 27% and 23% respectively.

The three lowest-ranking supermarkets were Aldi (19%), Morrisons (16%) and Lidl (9%).

While all six supermarkets increased their scores from 2018’s scorecard, Aldi – which was the target of an Oxfam campaign last year – increased its average score from 1% to 19%.

Oxfam analysed publicly disclosed policies of the supermarkets based on four key areas: supply chain transparency – including consumers’ knowledge about where food comes from – conditions for workers, conditions for small-scale farmers, and tackling discrimination against women.

It said while it was encouraging that each of the supermarkets had increased their scores, the highest score of 38% showed there was still a lot of improvements to be made to protect workers and farmers within supermarket supply chains. 

Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam’s ethical trade manager, said: “Supermarkets have the power to be a force for good in ending suffering and abuse so it’s encouraging that all six UK supermarkets have made improvements over the last year. But it is clear they are still falling a long way short of what needs to be done to ensure that the people who produce our food are properly rewarded and protected.” 

Last year, Oxfam warned the increased buying power of supermarkets and weakening protection for workers was causing economic exploitation at the bottom of the supply chain.

It found across 12 common food products, UK supermarkets receive almost 10 times more of the checkout price than the small-scale farmers and workers who produce them.

Oxfam said supermarkets should ensure that a larger share of what consumers spend on food reaches the people who produce it. 

Supermarket scorecard 2019

1. Tesco 38% (23% in 2018)

2. Sainsbury's 27% (18% in 2018)

3. Asda 23% (17% in 2018)

4. Aldi 19% (1% in 2018)

5. Morrisons 16% (5% in 2018)

6. Lidl 9% (5% in 2018)

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