Behind the Barcodes year two scorecard

Source: Oxfam

The top three supermarkets are unchanged on Oxfam’s 2019 Beyond the Barcodes scorecard while Aldi and Lidl have swapped placed for bottom

Six of the UK’s biggest supermarkets are progressing too slowly on human rights despite improvement since last year, according to Oxfam.

For the second year, the charity ranked Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl for human rights in the supply chain. Each was given a separate score for transparency, worker conditions, treatment of small-scale farmers and tackling discrimination against women, along with an overall score.

The order of the top three was unchanged, with Tesco first, Sainsbury’s second and Asda third, but all showed improvement. Tesco’s overall score jumped from 23% to 38%, Sainsbury’s from 18% to 27% and Asda’s from 17% to 23%.

At the other end of the scorecard, Lidl swapped places with Aldi to come bottom, while Aldi climbed two places to fourth, leapfrogging Morrisons. Despite dropping two places to the bottom of the pile, Lidl still improved its score, with 9% overall compared with 5% last year.

Morrisons was fifth for the second year, with 16%, up from 5%. Along with Lidl, its overall score was let down by a 0% for protecting women for the second year.

Aldi got 10% on women, 17% on farmers, 19% on workers, 31% on transparency and 19% overall. It’s a stark improvement on last year, when the discounter got 1% overall based on 4% for farmers and 0% for everything else.

Oxfam’s Behind the Barcodes campaign bases its assessments on “publicly disclosed policies and practices against internationally recognised indicators of good practice,” according to the charity.

Aldi became the focus of an Oxfam campaign following its scores last year, with the charity claiming no senior executives had explicit responsibility for supply chain human rights. Oxfam ethical trade manager Rachel Wilshaw also said the company had made no “explicit commitments to the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights, unlike Tesco and Lidl UK”.

In December Aldi committed to the UN Guiding Principles in a newly published human rights policy, to be overseen by Aldi South Group’s CEO of global sourcing and corporate responsibility, Christoph Schwaiger.

However Wilshaw said at the time that it did not go far enough, lacking “detail on how and when the policy will be implemented”. In February, Oxfam staged a protest at Aldi’s Atherstone headquarters, delivering ‘Valentine’s Day cards’ signed by customers and asking the supermarket to do more.

The following month Aldi announced a £200,000 investment over four years in a Fairtrade project providing support to women working in Ethiopia’s flower industry.

Commenting on the new scores, 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.

“It is especially concerning that Morrisons and Lidl continue to receive no score for ensuring that women workers are treated fairly and equally. More targeted measures are needed to tackle exploitation of women workers as this remains a major weakness across all of the supermarket supply chains.”