In July 2020 Ethical Consumer searched the Tesco Plc website for information regarding its supply chain management. A number of web pages were viewed including 'Our Approach to Human Rights' dated 27/05/2020 ; Modern Slavery Statement 2019/20 and an undated page titled 'Human Rights' found under the sustainability section of the website.

Supply chain policy (reasonable)
The ‘Our Approach to Human Rights’ stated that the company was committed to upholding human rights and fully support the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization Core Conventions and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

It stated that the company expected all its suppliers to meet the standards set out under the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code, of which Tesco was a member. It listed some but not all the standards, including adequate clauses on freedom of association, prevention of discrimination and forced labour. The 'Human Rights' page stated "We are also committed to reporting regularly on our work to uphold human rights in our supply chains. For our supply base specifically, we require that our suppliers uphold the full range of labour standards set out in the Base Code of the Ethical Trading Initiative". The standards included adequate clauses on freedom of association, living wage, hours in a working week, prevention of discrimination, child labour and forced labour. However, it was not made clear whether this requirement applied to any second tier suppliers. Tesco was considered to have a reasonable supply chain policy.

Stakeholder engagement (good)
Tesco was a member of of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)
The ‘Our Approach to Human Rights’ stated that the company had developed a ‘due diligence’ approach to managing supply chain issues; stating that it consulted over fifty internal and external stakeholders, including suppliers, multi-stakeholder bodies including "including suppliers, multi-stakeholder bodies such as the Ethical Trading Initiative, trade unions, civil society groups such as Unseen and Oxfam and government bodies". High risk areas of the company’s supply chain were identified through this process, and were used to target and reduce risk. Ongoing dialogue with NGOs, trade unions, multi-stakeholder groups and other organisations was said to be a key part of this due diligence process and Tesco reported annually to the Ethical Trading Initiative regarding its performance against its plan, risks and trends. The report was then said to be scrutinised by Trade Union and NGO members of ETI (members include the Trades Union Congress, Oxfam and Anti-Slavery International) and feedback was provided to help Tesco PLC review and improve. This human rights supply chain programme was said to cover everything sourced for own label, including Tesco-exclusive brands, services and goods.
It stated that workers in Tesco’s ‘first tier’ supply base had access to a confidential, independently managed Protector Line. Workers in lower tiers could also use the line and all concerns were said to be investigated, but it was not communicated directly to these workers. Complainants could use their own language and the line had free phone number as well as an online system. Tesco also stated that it had on the ground teams to further support this system.
Tesco was considered to have a good approach to stakeholder engagement.

Auditing and reporting (rudimentary)
A webpage was viewed, titled 'Our approach to Human Rights'. The page stated: "Ethical auditing is predominantly focused on the ‘first tier’ of the supply chain, i.e. sites producing the final product, such as a clothing factory or food manufacturing plant. High risk sites must have an audit before supply and then on an annual basis [...] We also audit beyond first-tier based on the risk of the products being produced". Tesco was considered to have a commitment to audit an acceptable portion of its supply chain including some depth. While there was a clear schedule for first tier suppliers in high risk countries it was not clear how often other suppliers, for example second tier suppliers or suppliers in lower-risk countries.
Tesco stated that it supplied audit results to Sedex but did not appear to have published audit results at factory level. Ethical Consumer expected companies to cover the cost of audits but could find no statement from Tesco about who paid for audit costs.
The webpage also outlined a staged policy for non-compliance, including requiring an independent audit to ensure that the supplier had completed all actions in its Corrective Actions Plan.
Tesco was considered to have a rudimentary approach to auditing and reporting.

Difficult issues (reasonable)
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for companies to address other difficult issues in their supply chains. This would include ongoing training for agents, or rewards for suppliers, or preference for long term suppliers. It would also include acknowledgement of audit fraud and unannounced audits, and measures taken to address the issue of living wages, particularly among outworkers, and illegal freedom of association.

Tesco PLC discussed its approach to developing long-term, stable relationships with suppliers, particularly in certain sectors, for example bananas.
Tesco discussed the use of semi-announced audits to avoid audit fraud and also stated: " In addition, we sometimes make entirely unannounced visits if we have particular concerns, including to validate audit findings".
The 'Our Approach to Human Rights' also stated that it provided key performance indicators to suppliers which included "Actions and support being provided on worker representation and farmer organisations" and the ETI basecode which Tesco required suppliers to adhere to stated that in cases where freedom of association is restricted by law suppliers must find alternative means.
The modern slavery statement 2019/20 stated that it had ongoing training for staff on modern slavery.
There did not appear to be a discussion of living wages beyond its inclusion in the ETI basecode.
The company was considered to have a reasonable approach to difficult issues overall.

Overall Tesco PLC received Ethical Consumer's best rating for Supply Chain Management.

Reference: (21 July 2020)

According to Tesco's consumer website, viewed by Ethical Consumer in July 2020, Tesco sold a number of tobacco products. The company therefore lost a mark under Irresponsible Marketing.

Reference: (21 July 2020)

On Tuesday 12th August 2014 it was reported on the Guardian website,, that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) had admitted that its inquiry, which had cleared the 2 Sisters Food Group of hygiene failings at its poultry processing plant, had been misleading.
2 Sisters was reported to be a supplier to leading supermarkets and fast-food restaurants including Tesco.
The Guardian had conducted undercover investigations into the food plant and found practices such as chickens that had been dropped on the floor being returned to the production line. The FSA conducted an investigation and rated the factory 'good' but less than a month later had written to Labour's Huw Irranca-Davies admitting it was wrong and that throwing dirty chickens back onto the production line constituted a "breach of the legislation". However, it had not issued a penalty, saying that the company had assured it the problem had been addressed.
The Guardian's investigation was said to have been prompted by high instances of contamination with the food poisoning bug campylobacter, which insiders claimed was a result of poor hygiene practices on the factory floor, “where managers were under pressure to process large volumes at high speed”.
Three former 2 Sisters employees were said to have come forward to make claims about dirty chickens contaminating the production line and attempts to manipulate inspections up to 2012. They claimed that it was "an almost daily occurrence" for birds to fall on the floor and be put back into the food chain instead of being correctly disposed of as waste. Auditors were also said to have been 'hoodwinked', with managers slowing down production lines and cleaning up poor practices during audits.
Following the Guardian's initial investigation, Tesco was reported to have conducted a surprise 4.30am audit at the 2 Sisters abattoir in Wales and to have returned for follow-up inspections.

In February 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed a further report on The Guardian website titled, 'Tesco chief must explain silence over second 2 Sisters factory, says MP' and dated to 21 December 2017. It stated that the company had been criticised by an influential MP after failing to disclose 'major' process issues at a second 2 Sisters Food Group factory, discovered by a Tesco inspector, to the Food Standards Agency.
The supermarket chain conducted a series of emergency inspections of 2 Sisters poultry factories as a direct response to a Guardian and ITV undercover investigation into its West Bromwich site at the end of September.
One site had received what Tesco described as a “red” warning rating because of process issues identified during one of those inspections, on the same day as production was being suspended at the chicken processor’s West Bromwich plant.
Tesco said it “works closely” with the regulator and had shared “the key findings from our inspections at 2 Sisters Food Group with the FSA”. The supermarket chain handed the full Coupar Angus report to the FSA after being contacted by the Guardian and ITV.

An earlier article on The Guardian website, dated to 4 October 2017, and titled 'Tesco vows to keep Willow Farms brand despite chicken scandal' stated that the company had decided to keep Willow Farms as a supplier despite an investigation by ITV / The Guardian that found evidence that food safety records had been altered at the West Bromwich processing plant of 2 Sisters Food Group, which supplies Willow Farms chicken. The investigation also found that chicken had been removed from Lidl packaging, and repackaged for Willow Farms, which is marketed as 'exclusively for Tesco' in Tesco stores.
The company lost half a mark in the Irresponsible Marketing category, for its failure to disclose findings from its food safety inspections.


Tesco chief must explain silence over second 2 Sisters factory, says MP (21 December 2017)

In April 2018, Ethical Consumer viewed a report on The Guardian website, dated 13 December 2017 and titled, 'Tesco faces legal threat over marketing its food with 'fake farm' names'. The report stated that the company was facing a lawsuit for using the name of a fake farm on its pork. A genuine farm of the same name, Woodside Farm, had threatened legal proceedings if the company did not change its marketing. It is being backed by The Feedback Charity.
The report quoted Feedback's campaign director: '“Let’s be clear – supermarkets are selling meat under fake farm names, deliberately encouraging consumers to believe that the meat is sourced from small-scale producers,” said Feedback’s campaign director, Jessica Sinclair Taylor.
The company lost half a mark under the Irresponsible Marketing category for misleading claims about its farm suppliers.


Tesco faces legal threat over marketing its food with 'fake farm' names (13 December 2017)

In July 2020 Ethical Consumer searched Tesco's website,, for a policy on sourcing conflict minerals. The company sold a number of own brand electronics products (including kettles, radios, portable DVD player) but no policy could be found.

Conflict minerals are minerals mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, notably in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The minerals in question are Tantalum, Tin, Tungsten and Gold (3TG for short) and are key components of electronic devices, from mobile phones to televisions.

Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for any company manufacturing electronics to have a policy on the sourcing of conflict minerals. Such a policy would articulate the company's commitment to conflict free sourcing of 3TG minerals and its commitment to continue ensuring due diligence on the issue. The policy should also state that it intends to continue sourcing from the DRC region in order to avoid an embargo, which would hurt local workers even more.

A company should also demonstrate its commitment to the issue of conflict minerals by supporting conflict free initiatives in the region either through membership of a multi-stakeholder initiative supporting the conflict-free minerals trade (such as Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI), Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA) and industry initiatives such as JEITA Responsible Conflict Minerals Working Group) and / or financially supporting in-region mining initiatives (such as KEMET “Partnership for Social and Economic Sustainability”, Conflict-Free Tin Initiative (CFTI), ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi), Solutions for Hope).

A strong conflict minerals policy would also:
- require suppliers to adopt a robust 3TG conflict minerals policy and programme equivalent to the company.
- include details of the steps it will take to identify, assess, mitigate and respond to risks within its supply chain.
- use conflict minerals reporting templates by Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (or may be referred to as EICC-GeSi) or OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas
- include a commitment (from the company and supplier) to only using 3TG minerals from smelters that have been audited and verified as conflict free by the Conflict Free Smelter Program, or an equivalent, as they become available
- list in detail the smelters or refiners (SORs)

Despite selling electronic items Tesco had no policy on the sourcing of conflict minerals. Therefore it received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for conflict minerals and lost marks under Human Rights and Habitats and Resources.

Reference: (21 July 2020)

In June 2020 Oxfam released an update to its 2019 report on
supermarkets. The report scored 16 of the biggest supermarkets in Europe
and the US on how they tackled critical issues affecting the people
working in their food supply chains. The specific areas covered were:
transparency and accountability; respect for workers' rights; fair
treatment of farmers; and fair treatment of women.

None of the supermarkets was found to be doing enough to ensure basic
human rights in their supply chains. The report observed that some
workers went to work and produced food all day, but went home hungry.
All the companies were given marks out of 100 in each of the above
categories. The lowest mark was 3% and the highest 46%.

Tesco ranked first place overall, with a score of 46% – up from 38% in 2019 – broken down as follows:

transparency 50%

workers' rights 67%

farmers rights 25%

womens' rights 43%

Although the supermarket received a light green (61-80%) rating in one category, it still scored an orange (21-40%) rating and two yellow (41-60%) ratings, so lost half a mark under Human Rights.


Behind the Barcode update (2020)

Tesco was one of the brands ranked in The Fashion Transparency Index 2019, which reviews and ranks 200 of the biggest global fashion and apparel brands and retailers according to how much information they disclose about their suppliers, supply chain policies and practices, and social and environmental impact.

Fashion Revolution is a global movement calling for a fairer, safer, cleaner and more transparent clothing industry, born after the fire of the Rana Plaza building in 2013 in Bangladesh in which 1138 people died and 2500 were injured.
Since then, Fashion Revolution wants to unite people and organisations to work together to change the way clothes are sourced, produced and consumed across the whole value chain, from farmer to consumer.
The companies were selected on the basis of annual turnover over 500 million US$ including hight street, luxury, premium, sportswear, accessories, footwear and denim from across Europe, North America, South America and Asia.
Out of the 200 brands selected in 2019, 52% did not respond to the survey, 46% completed and returned the questionnaire and 2% declined the opportunity to complete the questionnaire.
The results showed that 10 brands (5%) score 0%, the average score was 53 out of 250 (21%), only 5 brands scored higher than 60%. Not a single brand scored above 70%.

The Fashion Revolution Transparency Index 2019 looked at 5 key areas: policy and commitments, governance, traceability, know / show and fix, and spotlight issues.

Tesco scored 39% and lost half a mark under Human Rights.


Fashion Transparency Index 2019 (15 July 2019)

In July 2020, Ethical Consumer searched the Tesco PLC website for information on the company's cocoa sourcing policy. A Sustainability webpage was found which discussed cocoa sourcing. It stated "All of the cocoa required for our Own Brand chocolate confectionary sold in the UK is sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Additionally, all the cocoa used in our other Own Brand products (such as biscuits, cakes, desserts and cereals) is responsibly sourced through a combination of responsible cocoa programs – Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Cocoa Horizons, and Fairtrade."

In 2015 the company became a member of the World Cocoa Foundation - a multi-stakeholder industry platform seeking to improve the sustainability of cocoa supply chains.

Tesco's press team was contacted for further information by Ethical Consumer in March 2019 about the company's global cocoa sourcing. They confirmed that its 100% Rainforest Alliance statement only applied to UK own-brand and that it had own-brand chocolate in other business units where the cocoa was not currently sourced from Rainforest Alliance certified farms.

Although Tesco had made some positive progress, as all of its cocoa was not certified it lost half a mark under the Workers' Rights category, for likelihood of forced or child labour in its cocoa supply chains.

Reference: (21 July 2020)

In July 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed an article on the Reuters website titled "British grocer Tesco's slavery review reports abuses in Malaysia" and dated May 2020.
It stated that Tesco had disclosed instances of workers rights abuses in its operations in Malaysia and Thailand.
It stated "The company listed allegations based on interviews with 168 migrant workers in Malaysia and 187 in Thailand that included passport retention, unexplained and illegal wage reductions, heavy indebtedness to labour brokers and excessive overtime work".
Tesco stated that all passports had now been returned to affected workers and, according to the article, "The firm has developed a plan to look further into the situation, including detailed investigations of specific allegations, setting up support lines and grievance mechanisms for agency workers in their home languages and guidelines to ensure workers have access to passports whenever needed".
While it was positive that the company self disclosed these issues and had taken steps to address them, Tesco lost half a mark under Workers' Rights.


British grocer Tesco's slavery review reports abuses in Malaysia (16 May 2020)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Tesco Mobile website, which stated, "We share O2’s network". O2 is owned by Telefónica.

In August 2019, Telefónica lost full marks under the following categories: Habitats and Resources, Human Rights, Workers Rights, Political Activities, Anti-Social Finance.

Tesco Mobile therefore lost half a mark in those categories for having a licensing relationship with the company.

Reference: (11 January 2020)