Most UK consumers would reject products made with slave labour

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
11 March 2015

Some two thirds of consumers would stop purchasing a product if they discovered there was modern slavery in its supply chain.

That’s the finding of a survey of 2,000 people in the UK carried out by the Walk Free Foundation. A fifth would not know what to do, and 14 per cent would continue to buy the product.

The poll also found, of those willing to pay more for a product free from slavery, half would be willing to accept a price up to 10 per cent higher.

According to David Noble, group CEO, CIPS, the results show how procurement professionals can influence change.

“Their responsibility is the critical link with suppliers and so they can not only raise awareness of these issues but also have the ability to influence,” he said. “By ensuring supply chains are protected from fraud and corruption including anti-slavery criteria, procurement professionals have the power to affect real change in organisations and help eradicate these horrendous practices.”

Shoppers also have a role to play, according to Peter Nicholls, CEO of Walk Free Global Business Authentication, which supports businesses to prevent modern slavery in the supply chain.

“Consumers, through their purchasing decisions, have the power to change how companies act,” he said. “These findings demonstrate that most people are willing to pay more for products to ensure that they were produced without the use of modern slavery. The problem is, most companies lack transparency over their supply chains and so it’s very difficult for consumers to know which products are actually slavery free.”

Survey respondents also said a system of independent certification would be the most trusted source of information.

Final amendments to the UK’s Modern Slavery Bill, which will require companies to report on what they are doing to keep supply chains slavery free, are currently being considered with a final vote on the Bill expected in Parliament on 17 March.

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