Modern day slavery

In the Supply Chain and California Transparency in the Supply Chain Act: Statement of Actions 2021

MODERN SLAVERY STATEMENT 2021

 

This is Fyffes fourth Modern Slavery Statement outlining how we manage slavery and human trafficking risks in our own operations and supply chains. This Statement was prepared in accordance with the UK Modern Slavery Act of 2015[1] and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010[2].

Fyffes is committed to maintaining the highest ethical business standards across its operations and does not tolerate any form of modern slavery or human trafficking. We understand that the risks associated with modern slavery and human trafficking are not static and we continue to adapt our approach to mitigating this risk on an annual basis, as described in our Statement.

Fyffes Business and Supply Chains

Our core products—bananas, pineapples, and melons—are sold around the world. Our global network of operations includes more than 16 sourcing countries in the Americas and Africa, 29 ports of loading and 69 ports of discharge, and 23 distribution and ripening centres. Fyffes owns 13 farms in Latin America and has partnerships with over 2,000 suppliers.

With over 5,400 permanent employees and between 11,000 and 16,500 seasonal workers each year, we aim to build a world-leading company that cares deeply about how our produce is grown, harvested, and transported from farm to table, ensuring a positive commercial, social, and sustainable future.

In general, Fyffes directly hires employees and contractors. The UK ripening centres are the only sites where Fyffes requires labour providers for a significant portion of its workforce.

Our Policies in Relation to Slavery and Human Trafficking

The Fyffes Principles of Responsible Business Conduct (Fyffes Principles) is a foundational document that provides a clear set of guiding behaviours we expect of our people, our leaders, and all our closest partners and suppliers. This includes the requirement to be vigilant regarding forced or coercive labour, human trafficking, and child labour and to immediately report any suspicious activity. All new employees are furnished with a copy of the Fyffes Principles, which they must sign. The Fyffes Principles also apply to our key consultants who have worked with Fyffes for more than six months and large suppliers with contracts over US$500,000. Any supplier or consultant wishing to work with Fyffes must acknowledge and sign their willingness to abide by our code of conduct, declaring that at all times they will abide by the Fyffes Principles in how they conduct themselves and in the delivery of their work for Fyffes.

Fyffes Global Human Rights Policy sets out our approach to protecting the human rights of all stakeholders, including our employees. It is brought to life through training, internal protocols, and leadership action. This policy also requires Fyffes to undertake regular human rights due diligence.

Fyffes has a Global Child Labour Policy and Remediation Protocol applicable to all Fyffes own and suppliers’ operations. The policy clearly defines child labour, the minimum working age for Fyffes employees, and the definition of hazardous work for young people. In addition, it provides a clear protocol for remediating cases of child labour, including a list of reputable NGOs focusing on child labour by country/region.

Due Diligence Processes in Relation to Slavery and Human Trafficking, Risk Assessment, and Management

 

Human Rights Due Diligence

Fyffes seeks ways to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to our operations, business relationships, products, or services, including risks related to slavery and human trafficking. We provide for or cooperate through, legitimate processes in the remediation of adverse impacts on human rights when we identify that we may cause or contribute to these impacts. Action plans are established to prevent or mitigate the risks identified through the Fyffes Human Rights Risks Prevention and Mitigation Plan.

In 2019, Fyffes conducted its first-ever Human Rights Impact Assessment. A human rights impact assessment involves identifying, understanding, and assessing potential as well as actual human rights impacts and risks. Businesses should remedy adverse impacts they have ‘caused or contributed to’, and grievance mechanisms should be established for those at risk of being adversely impacted, including workers, communities, consumers, and other rights-holders.

The baseline Assessment was undertaken by an independent human rights expert consultancy using the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights framework and was published in 2020. This Assessment included an in-depth analysis of five countries in which we operate directly or through suppliers —Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras. The baseline Assessment identified 13 salient human rights risks, which reflect the challenges and realities of where Fyffes does business, but also how Fyffes is managing or mitigating its response to those challenges.  Two risk areas relevant to Modern Slavery were identified; ‘child labour’ and ‘migrant workers labour violations and forced labour’ and a third indirectly related area; ‘access to a grievance mechanism’.

This year’s Assessment was undertaken by Fyffes using a similar framework and methodology. Every three years, Fyffes will employ an independent expert consultancy to assess its human rights risks and review its mitigation and management systems to ensure the company is aligned with best practices and is not at risk of bias or complacency.

We will undertake another independently assessed Human Rights Impact Assessment in 2022, using a third-party human rights expert, and will include on-site deep-dive stakeholder consultations in two countries. This will help us continue to improve our policies and control systems so they can be strengthened.

The company reports the results of its Human Rights Impact Assessment annually, providing updates on progress against our Risks Prevention and Mitigation Plan, and continue to engage with stakeholders to continually improve.

Audits and Certifications

Our compliance team conducts and participates in internal and third-party ethical and social audits, including Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audits (SMETA[3]) throughout a large proportion of our supply chain. Fyffes entire compliance team has been trained in SMETA and applies its methodology in their regular internal audits.

As previously mentioned, the UK ripening centres are the only sites where Fyffes requires labour providers for a significant portion of its workforce. We also audit the labour providers we work with. Fyffes uses our Standard to verify how the labour provider recruits and treats the workers. We look for ‘Right to Work’ compliance and inspect how the provider checks for signs of modern-day slavery, e.g. duplicate bank accounts, retention of passports, etc.

Fyffes is also the largest supplier of certified Fairtrade bananas in Europe, and we have a significant number of Fairtrade melons distributed in the United States. Fairtrade-certified farms are audited under the Fairtrade standards which incorporate a holistic blend of social, economic, and environmental criteria. The standards contain both core requirements and development requirements aimed at improvements that benefit producers and their communities.

Similarly, Fyffes also produces or buys from a large number of Rainforest Alliance certified farms. Currently, 100% of Fyffes pineapples and bananas produced on our owned farms, and one in five bananas overall, are certified by Rainforest Alliance. Although this certification’s roots were in tackling deforestation, today it has evolved into a holistic environmental and social responsibility standard and certification.

In 2021, there were no forced labour or child labour non-compliances detected by audits.

Action Taken to Address Modern Slavery

 

Grievance Mechanisms

Fyffes provides for legitimate, accessible, predictable, equitable, and transparent operational-level grievance mechanisms aligned with UNGPs criteria as outlined in our Fyffes Principles Grievance Procedures. This enables us to understand and address challenges in our operations and potential dissatisfaction amongst our stakeholders.

Employees who believe improper practices or questionable acts have or will be committed are encouraged to report their concerns through existing grievance mechanisms if they feel comfortable doing so. These mechanisms include contacting their immediate supervisor or line manager, their human resources representative, workers’ representative (where it exists) or making use of the open-door policy at the site.

Where an employee reasonably believes that reporting a potential breach of the Fyffes Principles cannot be appropriately resolved with any of the mechanisms above, or that s/he might suffer retaliation or require confidentiality, employees should contact the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer directly.

Employees can also choose to use the Fyffes Ethics Hotline, an independently-run, confidential business reporting hotline available to both internal and external stakeholders globally to raise and resolve concerns about behaviour that contradicts the Fyffes Principles.

The Fyffes Ethics Hotline and grievances concerning the Fyffes Principles (including any grievances related to slavery and human trafficking) raised with a manager, human resources representative, line manager, or Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, are confidential. Complainants using the Fyffes Ethics Hotline who choose to remain anonymous will be provided with a unique identifying code so that the complaint can be assessed and investigated. If a complainant chooses to remain anonymous, it can reduce the speed and effectiveness of subsequent investigations.

Complaints raised with the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer or the Fyffes Ethics Hotline are assessed by the Ethics Committee, which comprises senior management from human resources, legal, and compliance.

Fyffes does not tolerate any form of retaliatory action against anyone for reporting a concern or cooperating with an investigation. Fyffes will take all steps necessary to protect employees expressing a concern with honesty, but it is a violation of the Fyffes Principles to make, on purpose, a false accusation, lie to investigators, deny, or refuse to cooperate with an investigation related to these Principles, which could lead to disciplinary measures.

The Ethics Committee assesses, investigates, agrees on an action plan, and resolves and reports on those complaints to the Board of Directors and our parent company Sumitomo, as outlined in the Grievance Procedures.

The time necessary to handle and resolve complaints may differ depending on the scale, complexity, and geographical origin of a complaint and will be resolved in the quickest possible timeframe. The Committee will either investigate the nature of the complaint or appoint a team to do so.

When the investigation is complete, the Committee will agree on an action plan to address the grievance or, if the matter has been resolved, a final summary of the case will be communicated to the complainant.

Non-conformance Remediation Process

Non-conformance reports from audits are issued to the farm or ripening centres and followed up for closure within 28 days. We work with our own farms and ripening centres or suppliers to resolve the non-conformances, but if any serious non-conformance persists, this is escalated and procurement from that farm can be (and in instances has been) suspended. Such drastic measures seldom happen; non-conformances are usually resolved and the farm in question is back into line within a few days. Fyffes will always first seek a viable remediation strategy with suppliers. In 2021, Fyffes did not suspend or cease sourcing from a supplier for poor compliance performance.

Training on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

 

The Fyffes Principles were sent to all employees in 2019 and any new employee must sign a copy of the Fyffes Principles once they have read them. In addition, during 2020 and 2021, all employees globally with email addresses, completed Fyffes Principles training, except Honduras and Guatemala. To date, over 520 employees have been trained on the Fyffes Principles and the Ethics Hotline.

Fyffes has committed to ensuring all employees have received the Fyffes Principles training (which includes a section on the Fyffes Ethics Hotline) and training will begin in 2022. This training will be available to employees without email/desktop computers, including our farm workers.

In July 2021, we announced our target of 100% of Fyffes workers and supply chain workers to be trained on human rights by 2030; 100% of managers and employees by 2025. This training will start in 2022 and will include information related to migrant workers, child labour, forced labour, slavery, and human trafficking, amongst others.

In 2020, Fyffes Sustainability team developed a tool to conduct due diligence on human rights risks at the site level. The tool includes a number of questions to evaluate the systems in place to manage human rights. It also includes a risk prioritisation tool, where each of our 13-salient human rights risks is evaluated against potential scope, scale, remediability/irreversibility, and likelihood as well as the level of current management of the risk by the site. Interactive training was provided to the management teams at all our sites to help them complete their site-level assessments using the tool. Additional support was provided by our sustainability and compliance teams who were extensively trained on human rights and the new due diligence tool during 2020. A total of 170 employees from the human resources, compliance and management teams at our farms, ripening centres, and suppliers have been trained. In 2022, we plan to conduct refresher training on human rights due diligence and the use of our site-level tool and expand the training to key suppliers.

Partnerships and Industry Collaboration

In the UK, Fyffes ripening centres are also Business Partners of Stronger Together and have implemented its guidelines. Staff from the UK Head Office and ripening centres have attended workshops to stay informed of developments in the modern-day slavery sphere.

In Costa Rica, Fyffes is a member of the Red de Empresas Contra el Trabajo Infantil de Costa Rica (Network of Companies Against Child Labour of Costa Rica). The Network’s members pledge to defend and promote the rights of the underage working population; especially, the right to education, health, and development.

In 2021, Fyffes joined the Food Network for Ethical Trade (FNET). Members of FNET can access a number of resources to develop a human rights due diligence approach, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the requirements of the UK’s Modern Slavery Act. Resources include the FNET ethical trade risk assessment tool which identifies the human rights risks of ingredients and raw materials and supports companies to prioritise where to focus their resources along their supply chains.

This statement was approved by the Fyffes Limited Board of Directors on 29 March 2022.

 

[1] The UK Modern Slavery Act of 2015 requires organisations with a footprint in the UK to be transparent about their efforts in identifying and eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking in their own operations and supply chains.

[2] The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 requires large retailers and manufacturers doing business in California to disclose on their websites their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their direct supply chain for tangible goods offered for sale.

[3] SMETA is an audit methodology, providing a compilation of best practice ethical audit techniques. It is designed to help auditors conduct high quality audits that encompass all aspects of responsible business practice, covering Sedex’s four pillars of Labour, Health and Safety, Environment and Business Ethics.

 

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