As part of the tie-up, Oxfam and the food giant’s Italian tomato processing business Princes Industrie Alimentari (PIA) will roll out monitoring processes and independent assessments of human rights initiatives implemented at its Italian tomato processing facility.
The initiatives will tackle exploitation challenges within the supply chains of both direct suppliers and other producers in the Apulia region of southern Italy. They will also include schemes to provide training on labour rights, ethical practices and safety at work, health insurance, access to a “helpdesk” service for workers employed in the fields, and safe transport for field workers.
“Thanks to this valuable partnership, we are developing a robust training framework for our growers and their workers, which we hope will be a source of inspiration for other companies across both the tomato supply chain and the broader Italian agriculture sector,” said Andy Hargraves, group director for Italian products at Princes.
“At the same time, we are strengthening transparency through monitoring processes to ensure we offer customers industry-leading standards in ethical sourcing, while demonstrating the action we are taking to improve conditions for the producers of Napolina tomatoes,” he added.
Recent research from Italy’s National Labour Inspectorate revealed that from 2020 to 2021, over 68% of companies in southern Italy were identified as irregular (or using illegal or unethical business practices), with the agriculture industry remaining the most exposed sector.
“We have entered into this collaboration because there is a concrete opportunity to strengthen how local stakeholders work together as a means to improve conditions for thousands of workers who are vulnerable to exploitation.
“It is a welcome step that PIA and Napolina have committed to undertake a three-year initiative that aims to enhance growers’ sustainability and protect human and workers’ rights in the Italian tomato value chain,” said Giorgia Ceccarelli, Oxfam policy advisor on business and human rights.
It follows the announcement made at the end of last year that Princes extended its partnership with Italian agricultural association Coldiretti and committed to pay its tomato growers significantly above the market rate. The company will do this through guaranteed three-year supply chain contracts to enhance financial stability for growers and ensuring the price of tomatoes reflects the true costs of growing and harvesting them.