In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Britvic PLC’s website for information on how the company managed workers' rights in its supply chain. On its Sustainable Business webpage it had a section of Resources that contained Policies including its Ethical Business Standards, which stated that it applies to all "Britvic suppliers and business partners who are required in turn to source goods and services in accordance with the standards set out here". This was seen to be a whole supply chain commitment. Its Modern Slavery Statement was also viewed which stated, "We have a diverse supply chain of approximately 1,700 supplier organisations".
Supply chain policy - good
The Standards specified that Britvic and suppliers ‘must be in accordance with the ‘Ethical Trading Initiative’ (ETI) base code’. It referred to the ETI policies: no use of forced labour, permission of freedom of association, no use of a child labour (conforming with the relevant ILO standards), no discrimination.
The Standards contained policies on Living Wages and Working Hours, which had improved since the last time it was checked and now stated that contracted hours shall not exceed 48 hours per week, and "The total hours worked in any 7 day period shall not exceed 60 hours", referring to overtime.
Ethical Consumer therefore considered Britvic PLC’s supply chain policy to be good.
Stakeholder engagement - rudimentary
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for companies to demonstrate stakeholder engagement, such as through membership of the Ethical Trade Initiative, Fair Labour Association or Social Accountability International. Companies were also expected to engage with Trade Unions, NGOs and/or not-for-profit organisations which could systematically verify the company's supply chain audits, and for workers to have access to an anonymous complaints system, free of charge and in their own language.
The Standards contained details of a free, independent and confidential Speak Up service for suppliers to use. It did not specify that the complaints system would be in employees’ own language. However, the Whistleblower Policy link provided phone numbers for each country so it was assumed that it would be.
The Standards also stated that the company was a member of ‘AIM Progress Group - a group of FMCG companies united in our commitment to promote responsible sourcing practices.’ However, Ethical Consumer did not consider this to be a multi-stakeholder initiative, as it was an industry only group with no civil society partners. No evidence was found of systematic verification of company's supply chain audits by trade unions or NGOs. Overall stakeholder engagement was considered rudimentary.
Auditing and Reporting - reasonable
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for companies to have an auditing and reporting system. Results of audits should publicly reported and quantitatively analysed. The company should have a scheduled and transparent audit plan that applies to their whole supply chain, including some second tier suppliers. The company should also have a staged policy for non-compliance. The costs of the audit should be borne by the company.
Britvic’s Ethical Business Standard stated, "Britvic requires all suppliers, co-packers and ‘Partner’ sites to provide us with ethical business standards information using the ‘SEDEX’ (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange) website", and that "if we assess a site as ‘potentially high risk’ it will be asked to have a Britvic approved ethical audit (SMETA 4 Pillar) at their expense and, if non-compliances are identified, to make the necessary changes to become compliant in an agreed timeframe. Re-audits are required every 3 years."
Britvic PLC’s 2019 Sustainability Report stated that it had "grown the percentage of direct suppliers linked to us on Sedex, the ethical supply chain data platform we use, from 57% to 92% across the Group over the course of 2019." Its Modern Slavery Statement also discussed its raw materials: "In recognition of the potential modern slavery risks associated with the agriculture of raw materials, this year we began a mapping exercise of our raw materials which are classified as high risk, for example, sugar. Mapping the chain of custody for these materials will create transparency within these supply chains. Similar exercises will continue for other high-risk raw materials used in Britvic in our next financial year (FY20)."
Britvic therefore had a schedule for its audit plan, for its whole supply chain, with a staged remediation policy, but the plan wasn’t transparent as it did not mention supplier locations, and no results were disclosed. Ethical Consumer considered the company to have a reasonable Auditing and Reporting process.
Difficult issues - rudimentary
Ethical Consumer also 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.
Britvic’s Ethical Business Standards stated, ‘Where the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining is restricted under law, the employer facilitates, and does not hinder, the development of parallel means for independent and free association and bargaining.’ In its Modern Slavery Statement it stated that a priority for 2020 was to " Align all Britvic businesses training on modern slavery with targeted training for procurement and human resources teams". As this was not yet established as ongoing, scheduled training, Ethical Consumer considered the company to have a rudimentary approach to difficult issues.
The company received Ethical Consumer's best rating for Supply Chain Management overall.
britvic.com (20 October 2020)