Fyffes Group Ltd is a wholly owned UK subsidiary of Fyffes Limited, itself a subsidiary of the Sumitomo Corporation. Operating out of five sites it ripens bananas and packages and distributes bananas and pineapples to retail and wholesale customers. 99.9% of this fruit is purchased from Fyffes International, the group procurement company, with the remainder purchased on an ad hoc basis from other fruit handlers often at very short notice. Fruit is sourced from over 2,000 farms, (some of whom have had a relationship with Fyffes for over forty years), across 14 countries in Central & South America and Western Africa. There is potential for Modern Slavery and human trafficking at farm level and in the UK as much of the workforce in these places is made up of immigrant labour. That said, the workforce on the production side is relatively stable due to the weekly cycle of harvesting. All farms packing for Fyffes are known, as are the packaging manufacturers who supply these farms.
Fyffes takes its membership of the Ethical Trading Initiative (“ETI”) very seriously and has included compliance with the ETI Base Code* as a contractual obligation when purchasing fruit. In addition 70%+ of the bananas are sourced from growers who hold Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certifications. Farms are also audited against the ETI Base Code by Fyffes compliance team, based in San Jose, Costa Rica, and/or by 3rd Party independent auditors, commissioned by either Fyffes or its customers, using the SMETA Measurement Criteria*. Results of these SMETA audits are shared with Fyffes customers through SEDEX. In 2016 Fyffes started the process of Human Rights Risk Assessment and will use the results of this to focus priorities in the forthcoming years, although the process has been severely hampered due to other issues and non-response of international agencies. As a result of internal checks representation has been made to a source country Government to speed up the process of visa applications as workers were left for too long without documentation.
Vulnerable persons are those most likely to be exploited and Fyffes is participating in the vulnerable people working group which is part of the ETI’s Food & Farming Programme. Migrant labourers are among the most vulnerable. In 2015 the International Labour Organisation (“ILO”) conducted a study on the Fyffes owned ‘Anexco’ pineapple farm in Costa Rica, the results of which have been published by the ILO as a good Good Practice report.
In the UK Fyffes Group Ltd makes use of temporary labour on a weekly basis to manage production peaks. All labour providers are licensed by the Gangmaster Licencing Authority and through active checks Fyffes Group Ltd keeps up-to-date on their licence status. In addition all labour providers are audited each year and their systems to detect Modern Slavery are challenged. In 2016 Fyffes Group Ltd developed an in-house Standard against which labour providers will be evaluated, which will include measures to prevent and detect modern slavery. The lead in this work has obtained a CPD certificate in Investigating Modern Slavery issued by the University of Derby
Management representatives from Head Office and the four ripening facilities have attended Stronger Together workshops and, as a result, the ripening centres have adopted policies which aim to detect and prevent hidden labour exploitation. Four of the five ripening centres are Business Partners within Stronger Together and the remaining one is working to this end. The Fyffes Standard for Labour Providers encourages all Labour Providers to become business partners in Stronger Together.
* The Base Code explicitly prohibits Modern Slavery while SMETA audits that the clause is being met – “There is no forced, bonded or involuntary prison labour”