02/16/2015 02:37:00 PM
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is reiterating its three-pronged “responsible sourcing” program in the wake of a Los Angeles Times series about farm laborers’ working and living conditions in Mexico.
The Little Rock, Ark.-based retailer outlined its plan in mid-February. It described upgrades to its “standards, partnerships and audits” program, providing few specific details.
“Walmart is committed to the welfare of the people who work to produce products,” according to the statement.
“The abuses outlined in the L.A. Times articles are unacceptable and have no place in our supply chain. We will not tolerate abuse of workers and our sourcing teams have been reinforcing this position with our Mexican produce suppliers since the articles were published.”
Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas in Nogales, Ariz., said most Mexican produce exporters already meet high standards.
“Every retailer, and every other buyer in the supply chain, makes their decisions based on a variety of factors, from food safety to packaging to shelf-life to price. Social responsibility is the next factor that will be considered. Luckily for most Mexican farms this is a non-issue. Most major exporting firms have already been operating at a high level of social responsibility,” Jungmeyer said Feb. 16.
The Wal-Mart statement references standards and suppliers several times, emphasizing that the suppliers will now have a bigger responsibility for ensuring growers and shippers meet standards.
“Since December, we have taken steps to improve our audit program, including plans to increase supplier accountability by asking them to certify that they have visited any new facility they plan to use for Wal-Mart production and attest that, to the best of their knowledge, the facility operates consistently with our standards,” according to the Wal-Mart statement.
In previously published materials, Wal-Mart’s standards included these points:
** All labor is voluntary;
** Children aren’t used in the production of merchandise for Wal-Mart;
** Workers are properly paid for all hours worked;
** Hours aren’t excessive and are consistent with local laws or regulations;
** Factories provide safe and healthy working conditions.
- See more at: http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-enewsletter/pulse/Wal-Mart-requiring-suppliers-to-certify-working-conditions-292105271.html#sthash.XIb9HC5H.dpuf