abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphLinkedInlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb

The content is also available in the following languages: 日本語, 한국어


3 Apr 2023

USA: Mexican workers contracted by LVH subject to forced labour on watermelon farms supplying to Walmart, Kroger, Sam's Club & Schnucks


In February 2023, the Miami Herald reported on conditions of forced labour for Mexican melon farmworkers working on farms supplying to major US supermarkets including Walmart, Kroger, Sam's Club and Schnucks.

A federal court found the owners of Los Villatoros Harvesting (LVH) guilty of violating slavery laws and banned the company from participating in the temporary agricultural workers visa programme. The company allegedly left workers unpaid, lying about how much they would be paid, and unreimbursed for paying significant recruitment fees. Workers were also not in possession of their passports and were housed in poor and cramped conditions.

The Department of Labor said workers employed by LVH harvested watermelons for Carlton Farms sold to Walmart and Kroger, and to Cardinal Farms and Wonning Melons which distributed melons to Kroger, Schnucks and Sam's Club.

Carlton Farms told the Miami Herald they had not received "notice of any legal violations involving workers from LVH". The Resource Centre was unable to find contact information for Cardinal Farms or Wonning Melons to invite them to respond. None of the four US supermarkets named as receiving melons harvested by exploited LVH workers responded to a request for comment from the Resource Centre.

In March 2023, a protest march was organised by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to highlight widespread conditions of exploitation in the US agricultural sector and pressure supermarkets to join the Fair Food Program. Coverage and company responses to the march can be read here.

The LVH case does not happen in a vacuum: these cases fester in opaque supply chains where buyers turn a blind eye to labor conditions and workers are powerless to report abuses. If corporations like Kroger want their claims of social responsibility to be taken seriously, they must strictly condition their purchases on verifiable compliance with human rights, and empower workers in their supply chains to serve as frontline monitors of their own rights, backed by the power of their purchasing order, to certify that compliance. That is how the Fair Food Program works, and the FFP is the only certification program recognized by virtually every federal law enforcement agency in the US for its success in preventing forced labor. And yet, nearly a year after the US Department of Labor publicly connected Kroger to the LVH operation, Kroger’s silence — both on its role in the abuse, and on its continued resistance to joining the Fair Food Program — has been deafening. The LVH case must serve as a wake-up call. It is time for Kroger to demonstrate real leadership and leverage its tremendous market power to help build a more modern, more humane food industry for the 21st century.
Coalition of Immokalee Workers, November 2023

Company Responses


No Response


No Response

Sam's Club (part of Walmart)

No Response


No Response