Tesco: Company Profile

Tesco is the UK's largest supermarket chain.

From sales of live turtles in China to the treatment of suppliers, the company has been the target of many campaigns over its approach to business. Tesco say they are doing all they can on sustainability but how do the company's ethics really stack up? 

Last updated: January 2017

Annual Revenue£54.43 billion a year


Other Brands                                                                        One Stop, F&F 

Company Score1.5 out of 20




Ethical Consumer Best Buy?No


Ethical issues by category

In November 2016, Tesco scored an Ethical Consumer best rating for its supply chain management. 

In 2014 however, a Guardian Investigation found slave labour was prevalent in the production of seafood sold by the likes of Tesco. Men who had escaped from boats told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20 hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. 

The company also failed to have a policy on sourcing conflict minerals. These are minerals mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, notably in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 


In November 2016, the company received a worst rating from Ethical Consumer for its lack of policy on the use of toxic chemicals for its electronic products. Tesco had a pledge for zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020, but this did not include electronics, only agriculture, textiles and leather.

Tesco also received a worst rating for palm oil policy. A 'UK Palm Oil policy' dated from May 2016, did not cover its non-UK markets and only applies for its own brand products.  


The company retails factory farmed meat and non free range eggs. The company scored a middle rating on animal testing, as it did not test own brand products on animals but did sell other branded products from companies that did still test on animals.

Concerns were raised by a number of shareholder groups in 2015 after Tesco’s remuneration report revealed that the company paid £4.13m in bonuses and salary to its chief executive Dave Lewis, for his first six months’ work, and a £1.2m payout to his predecessor who oversaw diving sales and profits.

In February 2016, Ethical Consumer gave Tesco a worst rating for the likely use of tax avoidance strategies. 

The company had many subsidiaries in tax havens, including one in Hong Kong and four in Luxembourg, which Ethical Consumer considered likely to be used as part of a tax avoidance strategy.

In Depth Information

See the Tesco company page for detailed company information, background stories behind the ratings direct from our corporate critic database, and 'email the company' tool.

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