In November 2020 Ethical Consumer searched for any updates since January 2020, when Ethical Consumer had received a questionnaire response from Princes which contained information regarding the company's Supply Chain Management policies. It also provided a link to the company's Ethical Trading Policy dated August 2018.
Supply chain policy - rudimentary
The Ethical Trading Policy contained adequate clauses on forced labour, child labour, discrimination and freedom of association. It stated that all suppliers must pay a minimum wage but did not state a living wage. It stated that working hours must not be excessive but did not specify that this meant a limit of 48 normal working hours + 12 hours over time per week. It stated "We expect all our suppliers to have ethical processes in place throughout their supply chain" but did not specify that suppliers should meet equivalent standards, so was not considered to demonstrate whole supply chain commitment. Overall Princes was considered to have a rudimentary supply chain policy.
Stakeholder engagement - rudimentary
The company was a member of the multi-stakeholder process the Ethical Trading Initiative.
The company stated in its questionnaire "Princes recognise the benefit in collaborating with NGOs, charities, trade union organisations, customers and our competitors to drive meaningful change and address some of the root cause issues of large and complex modern slavery incidences." This was not considered to amount to systematic input into the verification of labour standard audits. However, the questionnaire did contain information on the company's ongoing strategy to further involve multi-stakeholder initiatives, NGOs, governments and trade unions which was considered a positive aim.
The company provided no evidence that the suppliers' workers could on a regular basis provide anonymous feedback to the company on working conditions at no cost and in their first language.
Auditing and reporting - poor
The company did have an auditing system. It stated that "Via our Ethical Trade Policy, we communicate to all of our suppliers that Princes may conduct risk assessment onsite evaluations of suppliers including requiring independent ethical audits to be undertaken at appropriate intervals". The company stated "We are prepared to share and disclose the results of ethical audits with relevant stakeholders to drive improvements throughout the supply chain" but did not publicly disclose any audit results nor a clear audit schedule. The company did state that it had a staged remediation approach to addressing any issues found within its supply chain. It stated that costs of audits were borne by the suppliers.
Its 2019 Modern Slavery Statement stated that "100% of our third party finished good suppliers have commissioned and shared details of a third party ethical / social audit within the past 24 months." However, it also stated that since 2019, "any direct Ingredient and Packaging suppliers deemed to be Higher Risk (based on their sourcing country) would be required to undertake and share details of an independent, third-party ethical / social audit", but did not report on the % that met this requirement.
The company was considered to have a poor approach to auditing and reporting.
Difficult issues - rudimentary
The company stated that it had an ongoing training programme for purchasers in relation to modern slavery, human rights and workers rights in the supply chain and provided full details of this.
No other difficult issues were addressed.
Overall Princes received Ethical Consumer's middle Ethical Consumer rating for Supply Chain Management and lost half a mark in this category.