Behind the scenes in the orange juice industry and the role of Dutch supermarkets

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. International normative frameworks require companies to take responsibility for human rights violations, even when they take place in international supply chains. All companies carry responsibility for knowing their supply chains, identifying risks and taking action when labour rights are violated, thus also retail companies.

Supermarkets are the principal purchasers in the orange juice chain, and they carefully control their store-brand products. A responsible purchasing policy should prevent and address negative impacts; therefore, supermarkets must be aware of the power structures operating in their supply chains. 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.

The English translation of the report is forthcoming.

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