Kroger, Walmart, Albertsons Among Top Grocers Supporting Ethical Charter for Produce Industry
A new framework for responsible practices in fresh produce and floral supply chains has been unveiled in a joint partnership between the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association, and several of the industry's top grocers have voiced their support for the undertaking.
The Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices was conceived two years ago to create “an industry-wide framework that supports the dignity of workers who are critical in bringing fresh fruits, vegetables and floral products to consumers,” according to the trade organizations. The associations’ boards approved the charter in January, with more than 40 companies formally endorsing it, including such top grocers as Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Walmart and Wegmans, as well as numerous suppliers of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.
PMA and United Fresh will now encourage companies throughout the produce and floral supply chains to add their endorsement and join this growing community.
“The Ethical Charter and its principles reflect the desire of our members to converge and harmonize the many positive efforts that already exist to enhance working conditions,” said Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh. “We have both success stories in our industry and progress still to be made. We are providing these resources to encourage additional companies to endorse the Ethical Charter and demonstrate a commitment to workplace safety, respect for worker dignity, compliance with applicable laws, and to building a shared understanding across the industry on responsible labor practices.”
In formally launching the Ethical Charter, PMA and United Fresh aim to raise awareness, encourage commitment to the charter and its principles, and provide tools and resources to promote responsible labor standards across the fresh produce and floral industry. A range of tools and resources are being made available to the industry, including measurement criteria, a self-assessment form, a responsible sourcing guide and an endorsement packet for companies to use in communicating their commitment.
“We recognize and applaud all the good work already being done in this area both through advocacy and action, but we also recognize we have a responsibility to do more as companies and individuals to advance this cause,” said Cathy Burns, CEO of Newark, Del.-based PMA. “Public launch of the charter supported by key endorsers should drive further collaboration, momentum and endorsement. Central tenets to success include education, continuous learning and progress, and day-to-day behavior and actions.”
Work on developing the Ethical Charter began in late 2015 when the boards of PMA and United Fresh formed the Joint Committee on Responsible Labor Practices to develop an industry-wide framework. This committee of buyers and suppliers incorporated input from association members, expert consultants, key stakeholders and public comments to develop a draft charter. Brian Kocher, of Castellini Group of Companies, co-chaired the committee on behalf of United Fresh, while Russell Mounce, of Sam’s Club, co-chaired on behalf of PMA.