Tesco seeks more ethical banana supply chain

8 November 2021

Tesco has announced it will ensure all workers in its UK banana supply chain will earn at least a living wage by “closing the gaps” in its current policy.

According to a blog post by Giles Bolton, the retail giant’s responsible sourcing director, Tesco has pledged to top up the pay of employees earning less than a living wage from early next year.

Tesco said it would then ensure suppliers made a “time-bound” commitment to pay farmers a living wage, and it committed to buy more from suppliers who make greater progress towards this goal.

“We will reward suppliers who continue to make progress on closing living wage gaps with higher volumes as part of a balanced scorecard,” said Bolton.

“Our ambition is that from January 2024 we will only source from banana producers who pay a living wage to all workers no matter the volumes sourced by Tesco.”

Tesco said since 2017 all bananas it sold in the UK and Ireland have been sourced from farms certified by either Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade.

“However, certification does not guarantee workers earn a living wage, a benchmark wage that is enough to meet their family’s basic needs including food, housing, education, healthcare, transport, and clothing,” said Bolton.

As part of the new approach Tesco plans to benchmark current wages being paid to workers in the banana supply chain.

It said it had already been involved in establishing living wage benchmarks in all major banana-producing countries.

“This has allowed us, in collaboration with our suppliers, to collect information on the cash wages, bonuses and benefits-in-kind workers in our supply chain receive,” said Bolton.

He said the most recent data indicated that half of suppliers already paid a living wage to workers.

He added: “For our remaining suppliers, living wage gaps were found to range between 2% and 18%. But in many cases, it is only a small proportion of workers earning below the living wage benchmark.”

The retailer also said it intended to call on other buyers across the sector to encourage suppliers to increase wages for the lowest paid workers.

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