Charitable organisation Oxfam has released a report which shows that farmers and factory employees that produce food for the UK’s top supermarkets face abuse and poverty.
“It is shocking that so many of the farmers and workers producing food for our supermarket shelves are going hungry themselves,” Oxfam director of policy in Britain Matthew Spencer, said in a statement.
“Our biggest supermarkets are squeezing the price they pay their suppliers, resulting in huge, hidden suffering amongst the women and men who supply our food and trapping them in poverty.”
Some of these supply chains include avocados from Peru, green beans from Kenya and tea from India.
According to Oxfam’s report, supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, and Aldi are increasingly reducing the money they pay suppliers thereby triggering poverty and workplace abuses.
Globally, top brands face consumer pressure to enhance safety and conditions along the supply chains to ensure that they are free of slavery and free of unfair wages.
The amount of money workers in the supply chain received in 2015 dropped by 5.7 per cent compared to 1996 while the share of what British supermarkets got from what consumers pay increased from 41 per cent in 1996 to 53 per cent in 2015, Oxfam said.
Although the British Retail Consortium (BRC), a trade association representing UK’s top supermarkets, says enhancing equality is a priority for its members, inequality in the supply chain has persisted.
Peter McAllister, executive director of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) said in a statement: “Low wages, poor conditions and discrimination against women are sadly all too common […] for many of those who toil to produce our food. The danger is that unless action is taken, millions of workers and farmers will be condemned to in-work poverty, further fuelling unrest and conflict.”
For instance, some of these exploited people such as seafood workers in Indonesia and Thailand and grape pickers in South Africa told Oxfam they face harsh working conditions, poor wages, abuse, and forced pregnancy tests.