Dutch supermarkets are falling short when it comes to sustainable procurement and fair working conditions at suppliers in developing countries, according to SOMO’s latest research for Consumers International.

Researcher Sanne van der Wal: “Again and again we find that Dutch supermarkets fail to prevent unfair practices in their supply chains in developing countries”. Following SOMO’s latest research, questions have been asked in the Dutch Parliament.

Spilling the Beans

Precarious work in Morocco’s green beans production for Dutch supermarkets

Earlier on, in February 2013, SOMO published another report about the inadequate sustainability policy of Dutch supermarkets that specifically highlighted the problems at suppliers of green beans from Morocco.

According to SOMO there should be more political pressure to regulate the power of supermarkets and limit excesses. Van der Wal: “We should keep in mind that supermarkets have a strong influence on the supply chain and therefore play a very important role in making it more sustainable. In each European country there are only a few supermarkets that account for almost all purchases. They are the key to improvement. At the moment, supermarkets are not adequately held responsible for their behaviour, neither when it comes to unfair trade practices.

Paper truth versus reality

In SOMO’s latest research, the procurement policy of the largest supermarket chains in Europe are investigated and compared. This research will be published by consumer associations in the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Sweden. Important questions were: which agreements exist on paper between supermarkets and suppliers and how do supermarkets monitor whether or not these agreements are implemented? Amongst other things, SOMO has for example looked at the requirements that suppliers should adhere to in order to guarantee good working conditions and whether suppliers themselves were treated decently by procuring supermarkets.