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In October 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed Suma’s website for information about how it managed workers' rights in its supply chain. The company's Modern Slavery Statement and a questionnaire received from Suma in October 2021 was also viewed, along with a number of the company's other policy documents, including its 'Ethical Supplier Questionnaire'.

Supply chain policy (good)
A strong policy would include the following commitments: no use of forced labour, permission of freedom of association, payment of a living wage, the restriction of working hours to 48 hours plus 12 overtime (without exception), no use of a child labour (under 15 or 14 if ILO exempt), no discrimination by race, sex or for any other reason.

The company's supplier questionnaire stated that Suma expected suppliers to comply with the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code and included adequate clauses prohibiting forced and child labour and discrimination; requiring freedom of association and payment of a living wage; and limiting working hours to 48 a week plus 12 hours overtime. It also stated: "We ask that you hold your suppliers to the same standards, and are prepared to demonstrate due diligence in your supply chain" and was therefore considered to apply to the whole supply chain. Suma was considered to have a good supply chain policy.

Stakeholder engagement (poor)
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.

No evidence of stakeholder engagement was found. Suma was found to have a whistleblowing policy for its own members of staff but it did not state that this policy extended to workers' in its supply chain. It was considered to have poor stakeholder engagement overall.

Auditing and reporting (poor)
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for companies to have an auditing and reporting system. Results of audits should be 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.

About its auditing and reporting Suma stated "Many of our products are Fairtrade certified and as such are audited to certification standards. Outside of this auditing is carried out to ensure that food hygiene and food safety standards are adhered to. We don’t disclose the results of this publically and we pay for the audits." Suma's Ethical Supplier Questionnaire contained a section on "Sourcing From Your Suppliers", which asked questions about the supplier's own due diligence processes. However, it had not published its audit schedule or results. It also stated that it asked suppliers about modern slavery issues in its supplier questionnaire. Overall it was considered to have poor auditing and reporting.

Difficult issues (rudimentary)
Ethical Consumer also deemed it necessary for companies to address other difficult issues in their supply chain. 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 other measures taken to address the issue of living wages, particularly among outworkers, and illegal freedom of association.

Suma had confirmed with Ethical Consumer through a previous company questionnaires that it had a preference for long term supplier relationships and on-going training for its buying agents.

The company stated on its website that "Members of the team have completed online courses on understanding the signs of modern slavery and what to do if they suspect that it is taking place within our supply chain." The training courses were conducted by CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply), of which several of Suma's buyers were members. However this did not appear to cover the range of workers rights issues expected in a supply chain policy.

No further discussion of difficult issues could be found.

It was considered to have a rudimentary approach to difficult issues.

Suma received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for Supply Chain Management overall and lost half a mark in this category.

Reference:

Questionnaire October 2021 (October 2021)

In October 2021, Ethical Consumer searched the Suma website for information on its cocoa sourcing policy for own-brand products. No information could be found.

A search of the company's website only identified cocoa that was sourced outside of West Africa (for example in Ecuador or the Dominican Republic), and much of it was certified by the Fairtrade Foundation.

Cocoa was also not considered to be a significant part of the company's product offering.

As such, although Suma did not have a clear policy ensuring that its products were not sourced from West Africa, nor statement that all produce were certified by a relevant organisation, it was considered to have an acceptable approach to cocoa sourcing and lost no marks under Workers’ Rights.

Reference:

sumawholesale.com (29 October 2021)