A-Z of supermarket policies
Despite supermarkets cashing in on the rise of veganism, they completely fail to ingrain animal rights values in their supply chains.
With the exception of Unicorn (vegan company) and Infinity, Suma and Essential (vegetarian companies), all companies covered lost a full mark in the Animal Rights category for selling meat and other animal products.
Where uncertified meat and dairy was found, companies also lost a mark under the Factory Farming category.
In addition, we have looked at the non-food animal products and ingredients sold, including leather, silk, merino wool, down and feathers.
Ranking company performance for animal welfare strategies is a complex undertaking. Fortunately, the Business Benchmark for Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) now does this annually and has been a key driver in pushing companies to improve their practices in recent years.
In regard to supermarkets, Waitrose has moved up three tiers since the report started in 2012, and Walmart, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Lidl and Aldi Süd have moved up two tiers.
Companies in this guide have been ranked in the following tiers by the BBFAW:
- Tier 1- Leadership: Marks & Spencer, Waitrose.
- Tier 2 – Integral to Business Strategy: Co-op, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
- Tier 3 – Established but work to be done: Aldi, Lidl.
- Tier 4 – Making progress on implementation: Asda (Walmart).
- (Not ranked in BBFAW: Booths, Spar, Iceland, Ocado, BigBarn, Planet Organic, Abel & Cole, Essential, Suma, Infinity, Unicorn, Riverford and HISBE).
Companies losing half a mark in this category have robust non-animal testing policies for their own-brand supply chains but sell branded products from other companies which conduct animal testing.
Those that lose a full mark have no, or inadequate, policies for their own-brand products and ingredients.
Although Planet Organic sells a range of non-own-brand cosmetic products that are listed as vegan and vegetarian, the company has no clear no-animal testing policy for other cosmetics it sells, and therefore loses a mark in this category.
Given the media coverage surrounding bee populations and the wider insect apocalypse, you may expect companies to be supporting initiatives that reverse this trend.
Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have indeed all run programmes to assist bee populations which focus on biodiversity and/or habitat. Abel and Cole has also worked with charities such as Friends of the Earth to raise funds for the Save the Bees campaign.
However, none of the companies that sell own brand honey have policies to address bee welfare.
Ethical Consumer’s shopping guide to Honey, produced in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, uncovered a number of questionable practices in honey production, such as clipping wings, the culling of hives after honey is collected, and over-extracting honey.
We also found that few organisations were putting pressure on companies and beekeepers in general to restrict these practices. Therefore we urge supermarkets to include bees in their animal welfare strategies.
Child labour in West African cocoa production – sometimes involving slavery and trafficking – may be old news but it’s sadly still very relevant today. Evidence suggests that the response from chocolate companies, retailers and the international community has been woefully inadequate:
The 2018 Cocoa Barometer, a civil society report that reviews current sustainability developments in the cocoa sector, reads:
“Not a single company or government is anywhere near reaching the sector-wide objective of the elimination of child labour, and not even near their commitments of a 70% reduction of child labour by 2020”
We have, therefore, marked companies down in the Workers’ Rights category if they sell own-brand products containing uncertified cocoa, on the basis that two decades is long enough to get their supply chains in order. We look for Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ certification.
Although Tesco recently announced that all cocoa in its own-brand chocolate products was certified by the Rainforest Alliance, this did not apply to its cocoa products sold outside the UK. It, therefore, loses a mark under Workers’ Rights as Ethical Consumer expects global companies to be addressing issues throughout their supply chains, not just the UK.
Lidl made headlines in September 2018 when it announced it would only stock Fairtrade bananas in its 3,300 German stores but in 2019 the discount giant began quietly taking back that announcement. The U-turn could affect thousands of banana producers in developing countries across Latin America and Africa and other supermarkets might follow Lidl to compete.
Sign the petition to demand Lidl keeps its promise.
Lidl, Co-op, Suma, Abel & Cole and Unicorn all source 100% certified cocoa, and don’t lose a mark.