A new study has examined which supermarkets have human rights violations in their supply chains. Edeka now reacts to the results and criticizes the organization.
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 development and emergency aid 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 address human rights in their supply chains since 2018. The issues of transparency, workers’ rights, dealing with small farmers and women’s rights are closely examined. 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.
The Edeka company now defends itself against this representation. In a statement available to t-online, a spokesperson said: “Only the public image of a company was assessed, not the actual commitment. We are in contact with Oxfam and have informed Oxfam in detail about our activities on several occasions. We are very “We are very sorry that this information has hardly been taken into account and has even been misrepresented in some cases. Therefore, Oxfam’s rating does not reflect our actual commitment. Regardless of this, we are still interested in a fair and open exchange, also with Oxfam, to continuously work on improvements.”
“Human rights continue to play a minor role”
Oxfam business and human rights expert Tim Zahn says: “The supermarket check shows: Edeka is at the bottom when it comes to protecting human rights. Aldi, Lidl and Rewe are making progress, but human rights are still at play.” just an important role.” minor role for them.” The consequences: workers in supermarket supply chains would 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.
Edeka also defends herself against this accusation in the message. The issue of living wages plays a crucial role in a banana project in Ecuador and Colombia with WWF. In addition to the primary focus on social responsibility, topics such as climate, fresh water, soil health, and natural ecosystems are also discussed. The company has also informed Oxfam extensively about it.
“Cocoa for the Future”
Edeka has also started the “Cocoa for Future” cocoa program in Ghana, which also takes into account the social conditions of small farmers. “We are working with local cooperatives to demonstrably improve the living conditions of local families,” the company said.
“Of course, we implement all the requirements that are imposed on us as part of the Supply Chain Due Diligence Law that will come into force in 2023,” emphasizes Edeka. Currently, the main focus is on further developing structures and processes in the group of companies to meet these requirements at all times. They also want to fully comply with transparency obligations.
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 similar 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.