Brazil: Dutch supermarkets fail to acknowledge poor working conditions in orange production chain
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Dutch supermarkets are confronted with human rights violations in the production of the orange juice they sell, which is produced in Brazil. These supermarkets do business with three large multinationals located in Brazil, where violations are known to take place on their plantations and on those of their suppliers...
They should use their leverage to persuade the three large Brazilian players to exercise responsible business conduct (joint cooperation and increasing leverage is key to this) or they should purchase orange juice from other, smaller producers, and exercise their leverage there.
Supermarkets must strive for fair prices for growers and a living wage for pickers. They can accomplish this by researching what prices are necessary to attain a living wage for farmers and labourers, and to formulate and execute a policy to achieve those prices. They must also see to it that these higher prices actually result in higher wages paid to labourers.
One third of the orange juice sold in Dutch supermarkets comes from Brazil, where labour conditions for pickers are often substandard. Orange pickers cannot live on their earnings, work long hours and are exposed to toxic pesticides in the workplace. As purchasers of the juice, Dutch supermarkets share responsibility according to international standards; however [...] the supermarkets are not yet doing enough to improve conditions...
SOMO [...] questioned the five largest supermarkets in the Netherlands (Albert Heijn (Ahold Delhaize), Jumbo, Lidl, Aldi and Plus) on the source of their store-brand juice and what efforts they have made to prevent problems with human rights violations in the supply chain...
The supermarkets had their trade association, Central Food Trade Office (Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelen: CBL), draft a general statement. This general statement does not mention abuses in the orange juice production chain and offers no concrete information on the policies, initiatives, results or supply chain of individual supermarkets. The supermarkets shifted their responsibility to the Dutch government. Only Jumbo has announced new steps.
Dutch supermarkets have the ability to influence the juice processors and to contribute to better labour conditions in the supply chain. Fair trading relations with suppliers and purchasing policies that lead to fair prices for orange growers are needed to achieve structural improvements.