GB Waitrose South African blueberries

Waitrose sources a lot of its fruit from South Africa, iNews said

Waitrose has produced a report into how to improve the lives of the women on its supply chain, pledging to fund schemes from Ghana to Cambodia to combat inequality and hardship, reports iNews.

The retailer told the publication it wants to “talk openly about issues” food producers face, and said that despite continued efforts to protect the welfare and wellbeing of workers, harassment, child slavery, and low pay still exist.

In its new report, Waitrose, and the John Lewis Partnership as a whole, highlighted the likes of discrimination against migrant strawberry pickers in southern Spain, sexual harassment in Egypt, and women’s land rights in Kenya.

Marija Rompani, the Partnership’s new director of ethics and sustainability, told iNews: “Women face so many difficulties around the world. There is systematic inequality. We’ve never been able to tie problems back to our suppliers but we do know these issues go on, and it’s important we tackle them and protect workers. We’re committed to improving the lives of women, and all people who work on our food chain”.

Rompani said the report into women follows the Partnership’s work carried out by the Waitrose Foundation, which exists in communities to provide better opportunities for the workers who grow, pick, and pack the supermarket’s produce, as well as other products.

According to iNews, Rompani said the retailer works with NGOs and the Fairtrade Foundation to create more sustainable trade around the world.

Waitrose sources a lot of its fresh produce and goods from South Africa, including Fairtrade wine, flowers, apples, grapes, and citrus, iNews said. The new report not only underlines the inherent dangers to women on the supply chain, but also sets out how the Partnership might tackle them.

In Kenya, which supplies French beans and other veg, Waitrose has been working with Farm Africa to establish worker committees, the publication said. Rompani said giving people “a voice” is a more decisive and progressive way to find solutions.