According to a new study, there is still a clear lack of human rights compliance in German supermarket supply chains. One market performs particularly poorly.
Among the large supermarket chains in Germany, Edeka lags furthest behind when it comes to protecting human rights in its product supply chains. This is demonstrated by the current supermarket check made by the emergency aid and development organization Oxfam. While Aldi, Lidl and Rewe supermarkets have made progress in dealing with human rights, Edeka remains stubborn. The result: the group remains in the 2022 supermarket check fund. This makes it clear that voluntary initiatives are not enough. Effective laws are needed to prevent human rights violations, Oxfam said.
With the supermarket check, the organization has been regularly looking at how large retail groups deal with human rights in their supply chains since 2018. The issues of transparency, workers’ rights, dealing with small owners and property rights are closely examined. women. Since the first check, Lidl has risen from 5 to 59 percent, Rewe from one to 48 percent. Edeka, meanwhile, only achieved eleven percent of the possible points in this year’s check.
“Human rights continue to play a minor role”
“The supermarket check shows that Edeka is at the bottom when it comes to protecting human rights. Aldi, Lidl and Rewe are making progress, but human rights still play a minor role for them,” says Tim Zahn, business expert at Oxfam. and human rights The consequences: Workers in supermarket supply chains continue to be exploited. “For a full day of work, employees in Costa Rica at an Edeka pineapple supplier, for example, only receive 4.50 euros, a salary well below subsistence level,” says Zahn.
Oxfam studies have uncovered labor and human rights violations in German supermarket supply chains several times in the past. These showed, for example, working conditions analogous to those of the slaves in the cultivation of coffee in Brazil.
Advances in Aldi, Lidl and Rewe
The groups achieved the additional points in this year’s supermarket verification mainly through new company guidelines and more transparency. Lidl now publishes all suppliers along the supply chain for bananas, strawberries and tea. Aldi, Rewe and Lidl have also published new guidelines for gender equality and are involved in pilot projects for living wages and incomes in growing countries. Companies are showing that they can improve their human rights policies.
But even Aldi, Lidl and Rewe only meet just under 50 to 60 percent of the criteria that would be necessary for a good human rights policy. There is not enough movement, particularly regarding the pricing policy. Supermarkets continue to put pressure on prices from their suppliers, contributing to low wages in supply chains. At the same time, supermarkets are posting record sales during the Covid 19 pandemic and the owners’ billions in assets have continued to grow accordingly. “There is enough money for a different pricing policy. But nothing has changed in the basic business model of supermarkets, it is still exploitation”, criticizes Tim Zahn. “They continue to make profits at the expense of human rights. That has to change. Supply chain workers must finally earn a decent income.”
Edeka’s refusal shows that voluntary commitment is not enough, according to Oxfam. The federal government must therefore also act: it must implement the German supply chain law ambitiously and also work to ensure that the draft EU supply chain law closes the gaps in German law. . In addition, those affected by human rights violations must have the opportunity to sue for damages in German courts.