EU buyers (especially large ones in western and northern EU countries) pay more and more attention to their corporate responsibilities regarding the social en environmental impact of their business. This also affects you as a supplier. Common requirements are the signing of a suppliers’ code of conduct in which you declare that you do your business in a responsible way, meaning that you (and your suppliers) respect local environmental and labour laws, stay away from corruption etc. Furthermore importers may also participate in initiatives such as the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) in the UK, or the Business Social Compliance Initiative (less present in the UK). These initiatives focus on improving social conditions in their members’ supply chains. This implies that you, as a supplier, are also required to act in compliance with their principles.
ISO 26000 provides guidance on how businesses and organizations can operate in a socially responsible way. This means acting in an ethical and transparent way that contributes to the health and welfare of society.
- In case you are targeting the UK market familiarise yourself with the ETI base code to check what ETI members require from their suppliers.
- When targeting other EU markets it might be interesting to assess your company’s current performance by doing a self-assessment, which you can find on the BSCI website.
- Be aware that many of the environmental and social sustainability issues take place at farm level. To test to what extent your farmers are sustainable you could ask them to fill in the Farmer Self Assessment by the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative.
- Consider defining and implementing your own code of conduct. This is not required by buyers, but may be a good way to show potential buyers your views on corporate responsibility. Refer to the code of conduct of the Fruit Juice Association (AIJN) for inspiration. The AIJN represents a large share of the European fruit juice producers.
- Implementing a management system such as ISO14000 (environmental aspects), OHSAS 18001 (occupational health and safety) or SA 8000 (social conditions) is away to address sustainability and possibly gain a competitive advantage. Research with your buyer whether this is appreciated.