Canned food giant Princes has hit its target of sourcing 100% of its tomatoes from ethical sources before the end of 2018.
The supplier said its entire Italian tomato supply chain now came from farms in Puglia that held either Global GAP GRASP or SA8000 accreditation.
Princes – which was also awarded full membership status by the Ethical Trading Initiative this year – said it had conducted more than 4,000 in-field inspections of growers and farming co-operatives in its supply chain since 2015.
It also has complete visibility of the movement of tomatoes during the annual harvest, traceable through a GPS system installed on its trucks.
GRASP is a scheme developed by agricultural standards body Global GAP to assess social practices on farms, including workers’ health, safety and welfare, contracts, wages and freedom of representation. Meanwhile, SA800 accredition was developed by NGO Social Accountability International and measures social welfare compliance.
Princes processes in the region of 300,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes annually from its Foggia facility, creating a number of products for its Napolina range and retailer own brand, which are marketed and distributed across Europe.
The majority of these tomatoes are mechanically harvested but unlike other Italian processors Princes does not rely on this practice as being a guarantee of ethical compliance, it said.
“We are passionate about pursuing and encouraging social sustainability in the tomato supply chain,” said Princes corporate relations director David McDiarmid. “We have worked hard with our direct suppliers and their growers to reach this 100% ethical accreditation goal and to improve the lives of workers in our supply chain. We also firmly believe this work enhances the reputation of the Italian tomato industry.”
It follows a period of intense scrutiny over working practices in the Italian tomato sector. Both Mutti and Cirio owner Conserve Italia were forced to reassure UK customers and launch reviews into their supply chains last October, after a third party supplier was linked to alleged labour abuses in a Guardian report.