Project Will Support Produce Growers and Suppliers to Strengthen Labor Practices and Report Their Progress on THESIS
November 16, 2022, TEMPE, AZ, FAYETTEVILLE, AR – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced its partnership with Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) on a two-year, $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to support adoption and implementation of the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices across the fresh produce industry. The Ethical Charter Implementation Program will help growers and suppliers strengthen the management systems they need to uphold the principles of the Ethical Charter through a capacity building, self-assessment tool and TSC’s sustainability assessment platform, THESIS. THESIS is a performance assessment system that equips users to benchmark, quantify, and act on critical sustainability issues within their consumer product supply chains.
The grant builds on EFI’s successful pilot program from 2019-2021 with four retailers, 20 suppliers and 40 growers that tested the use of self-assessments and resources to help growers identify and improve the management systems they need to support robust labor practices.
This grant funds the next stage of work with the creation of the Ethical Charter Implementation Program to further improve and expand this approach, allowing more growers, their suppliers, and retailers to engage around continuous improvement on working conditions. EFI and TSC will collaborate in the distribution of a capacity-building self-assessment questionnaire to all growers selling fresh produce to US retailers, aggregating supplier data on TSC’s THESIS platform. TSC is working with EFI to establish an initial cohort of suppliers and their growers to participate in the program launch.
TSC has a rigorous methodology to evaluate available scientific knowledge, identify environmental and social impacts, and identify improvement opportunities for many different types of consumer products. TSC defines practices in the supply chain as “hotspots” where companies can make the biggest impact in improving sustainability and transparency of consumer product supply chains. Labor practices in fresh produce supply chains, according to TSC science and research, may contain issues such as:
· Risks of forced or child labor, characterized by actions such as trafficking, withholding wages or documents, and restricting workers to the work site
· Smallholder farms with limited access to information, technology, or resources
· Worker health and safety, which includes farm workers, especially women and migrants, who may face unfair pay, discrimination, and limited freedoms
This funding will enable EFI and TSC to work with a group of retailers, including Kroger and McDonald’s USA, as well as suppliers and other partners to support field-level application of Ethical Charter principles.
TSC CEO, Dr. Christy Slay, stated, “TSC is proud to work with EFI to help growers and suppliers continue to improve their practices and grow their capacity to fully implement the Ethical Charter. TSC’s mission is to make all products sustainable. This begins with helping growers achieve and communicate responsible labor practices through field-based assessments so that they can demonstrate improvement to suppliers and retailers on THESIS.”
About The Sustainability Consortium
The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver sustainable consumer products. We work to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. Our members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies, and academics. TSC convenes our diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit sustainabilityconsortium.org.
Equitable Food Initiative is a nonprofit certification and skill-building organization that seeks to increase transparency in the food supply chain and improve the lives of farmworkers through a team-based approach to training and continuous improvement practices. EFI brings together growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumers to solve the most pressing issues facing the fresh produce industry. Its unparalleled approach sets standards for labor practices, food safety and pest management while engaging workers at all levels on the farm to produce Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured® fruits and vegetables. View a list of EFI-certified farms at equitablefood.org/farms.
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart.org represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By leaning in where the business has unique strengths, Walmart.org works to tackle key social issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 24 countries, employing more than 2 million associates and doing business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart.org is helping people live better by supporting programs that work to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, address hunger and make healthier, more sustainably grown food a reality, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit walmart.org or connect on Twitter @Walmartorg.