Sainsbury’s has launched a new sourcing approach and sustainability standards that will audit suppliers against data from the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs).
The new strategy is designed to give greater support to farmers and secure vital product sources in the face of mounting challenges from climate change, global competition, health and geo-political tensions, the retailer said. It comes after Sainsbury's recently conducted a major supplier review and reshuffle as part of a new strategy to increase direct to grower sourcing models.
Trialled on prawns from Thailand and Belize, the new sustainability standards will be rolled out across 35 key crops and ingredients, after further pilots on other key products including bananas and potatoes.
Described as a new “management framework” and built around data and insight from the SDGs, growers and suppliers will be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses via data on social, economic and environmental metrics, as well as visibility of best practice among peers.
Sainsbury’s said its new standards build on and recognise existing certifications, and will be monitored through independent audits.
CEO Mike Coupe said: “Sourcing with integrity has always been at the heart of Sainsbury’s business – offering customers high quality products with a provenance they can trust.
“As our farmers and their communities face mounting challenges, we want to advance the way we work with them over the long-term – so that we can secure their businesses, providing them and their communities with a better quality of life and in so doing secure the future supply of great products our customers love for many years to come.”
The retailer has also announced a pilot for a new sustainable sourcing approach for tea growers, named Sainbury’s Fairly Traded, which will offer a guaranteed minimum price and social premium to growers, used to fund training initiatives. In addition, tea growers will have the option of a long-term relationship, and expert advice and training to respond to specific challenges.
“We have learned what works and what is of real value to farmers,” said Coupe. “Starting with tea, we are taking this knowledge to make a further step-change to our sourcing approach by introducing new ways to utilise data and insight to help farmers improve their business performance and the wellbeing of their workers.”
Coupe added: “We don’t pretend to have all the answers – far from it – and that’s why these pilots are about testing and developing new approaches, collaborating with expert partners and listening to our farmers.
“In this way we can find out what works, and what can be taken to scale and adopted elsewhere, be it internationally or here in the UK, to secure sustainable supply chains that benefit our farmers and their communities and our customers too.”