Procurement practitioners have several spinning plates to balance, from category management to strategic sourcing to company cost reduction. But those working for Britain’s largest supermarkets will need to focus more on ethical supplier relationship management, in light of new research from Oxfam.
The charity has just released its second annual ‘Supermarket Scorecard,’ an assessment aimed at preventing human suffering in these businesses’ supply chains. The study evaluated, for the second year running, six British supermarkets’ publicly available policies and practices relating to issues such as supply chain transparency, working conditions for small-scale farmers and workers, and combating discrimination against women.
Tesco came top of the survey with a score of 38%, representing an increase of 15 points on 2018. Sainsbury’s and Asda remained in second and third place with scores of 27% and 23% respectively. The lowest scores went to three major outlets – Aldi coming in fourth place with 19%, Morrisons in fifth with 16%, and Lidl coming last with 9%. All six had pushed their scores up from last year’s totals, with Aldi, despite coming fourth overall, showing the biggest annual improvement, climbing from 2018’s 1% to this year’s 19%.
Oxfam’s ethical trade manager, Rachel Wilshaw, said: “Supermarkets have the power to be a force for good in ending suffering and abuse so it’s encouraging that all six UK supermarkets have made improvements over the last year. But it is clear they are still falling a long way short of what needs to be done to ensure that the people who produce our food are properly rewarded and protected.” In 2018, Oxfam warned that the burgeoning buying power of supermarkets, combined with slackening protection for workers, was driving economic exploitation at the lower reaches of the supply chain. It found that with 12 common food products, British supermarkets received ten times more at the checkout than the farmers and workers who produced them.