This statement is made in line with section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. It sets out the steps Riverford Organic Farmers have taken to reduce the risk of modern slavery in our supply chain, and our own operations, for the financial year ending April 30th 2018.
We’ve put together a transparent report on:
- The measures we take against actual and potential risks of modern slavery
- Progress we’ve made in the past year
- Our plans to develop even more robust systems which address risks across our supply chain
What is modern slavery?
Modern slavery is a crime that encompasses the many ways people can be exploited and forced to work for little or no pay – such as forced labour or forced marriage. Victims are controlled by force, threats, coercion, abduction, fraud and deception.
It’s a growing problem; in 2016, up to 40.3 million people across the globe were estimated to be living in some form of modern slavery. Increased migration is making many people more vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation, with modern slavery being found in all industry sectors, from agriculture and fishing to domestic work.
The problem isn’t limited to any one region. While Africa has the highest prevalence of victims of modern slavery (7.6 people per 1000) and is perceived as a risk area because of high incidences of migration and conflict, the UK still had 5145 potential cases of modern slavery in 2017, with tens of thousands of cases estimated to remain unidentified.
Riverford is known for dealing fairly with staff, suppliers and customers; fairness is one of our founding values, and remains at the heart of all we do. We are committed to remaining vigilant against the risks of modern slavery throughout our supply chain.
Key progress in the 2017/18 financial year
In the last financial year, we have formalised our supplier assessment processes, increased our monitoring of our supply base, and developed our policies relating to whistleblowing and labour practices.
Riverford’s Whistleblowing Policy communicated to all staff and integrated into our induction process
The Riverford Fair Labour Policy developed, ready for integration into our induction processes (following staff council elections in October)
Three-stage Supplier Assessment Process for Modern Slavery introduced
A suite of Modern Slavery Indicators developed and implemented, to assess the risk of modern slavery when we visit suppliers
Staff educated about modern slavery risks in our supply chain and how to report any concerns
Our business and structure
Riverford Organic Farmers is an employee-owned company, growing, packing and delivering organic produce direct to customers’ doorsteps in England and Wales. 85% of our products are fresh fruit and veg straight from farms – mostly sourced in the UK, but we also work with organic farmers overseas.
Organic suppliers across the world
Policies and contractual terms
We have developed Riverford’s policies for effective due diligence and the assessment of modern slavery risks based on:
Despite having a largely UK-based supply chain, we also source some products globally. With global sourcing activities come an increased risk of modern slavery in our supply chain. To mitigate this risk, we embed the principles of our Riverford Fair Labour Policy into our sourcing practices and use a Slavery Reporting Process. Over the financial year 2018/19 (and annually from then on), all our suppliers will be asked to ratify their commitment to the Riverford Fair Labour Policy.
We make sure that our Whistleblowing Policy is available to all Riverford staff as part of the induction process. This provides a safe channel of communication for staff to voice concerns about modern slavery or anything else relating to poor business or labour practices at Riverford that may be worrying them.
Over the financial year 2018/19, all policies mentioned above will be integrated in the Riverford Responsible Sourcing Framework we plan to develop.
Due diligence and risk assessment
Riverford is rare for a business of our size in that we deal directly with the vast majority of our suppliers, avoiding middlemen that disconnect the retailer from the producer. Having direct, long-lasting relationships with a network of small suppliers gives us greater confidence in their production practices and their treatment of staff. However, remaining vigilant against the risks of modern slavery is paramount.
To assess actual and potential risks of modern slavery in our supply chain, all suppliers are subject to a three-stage process used to identify any risks of modern slavery within their operations.
1. Desk-based due diligence research process into modern slavery risks
Modelled on processes in the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code (an internationally recognised code of labour practice), our Procurement team researches country-specific risks, sectoral/product-specific risks, and regulatory, socioeconomic and political factors affecting the supplier’s country or region.
2. Supplier self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ)
Our Ethics and Environment SAQ (filled out annually by suppliers) includes questions on labour standards, and is used to assess modern slavery risk by identifying employment practices and working conditions.
3. Supplier visits: Modern Slavery Indicators checks
Also modelled on the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code, our Modern Slavery Indicators Checklist is a suite of 11 indicators that we use to assess the risk of modern slavery when visiting a supplier.
The greatest risks in our supply chain are the growing and harvesting of crops. We are developing a programme of supplier visits to assess our suppliers’ operations.
In our own operations, we have identified the use of labour agencies as a risk: it means that we don’t have direct relationships with some employees. To prevent modern slavery, we work with licensed recruitment agencies, regularly audit the majority of agencies we work with to ensure they are licensed by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), and talk to employees to establish an on-the-ground picture of working conditions. Going forward, we will be increasing our audit coverage to include every labour agency we use.
If slavery is suspected in our supply chain or our operations, our Slavery Reporting Process will be used:
Measuring effectiveness – our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
We have established a set of KPIs to monitor how effectively we are identifying and mitigating modern slavery risks in our supply chain.
- Percentage of suppliers visited to check labour conditions each year, categorised by UK suppliers, European suppliers, and suppliers outside of Europe.
- Risk factor for suppliers, generated through the labour standards questions in our supplier SAQ.
- Number of suspected or actual cases of modern slavery reported in Riverford operations and our supply chain for the year.
These KPIs will allow us to create a full report on our effectiveness in preventing modern slavery at the end of the financial year 2018/19.
We have delivered Modern Slavery Risk Awareness training to relevant members of staff at Riverford (key members of our Operations, Senior Management, People, Technical and Procurement teams), which introduces indicators of modern slavery. Over the next year we will be focussing on sector-specific training for relevant staff members.
We will be working in partnership with our suppliers over the next year to minimise modern slavery risks in our supply chain. If required, Riverford will provide guidance documents on good HR management and the prevention of worker exploitation, with specific advice tailored to the sector the supplier sits within (e.g. agriculture or food manufacturing).
Planning for the future
Here is a summary of the steps we will be taking over the next 12 months:
- The Riverford Fair Labour Policy will be integrated into staff inductions after our employee council elections in October.
- All suppliers will start annually ratifying their agreement to the Riverford Fair Labour Policy.
- Our values and buying policies will be formalised and integrated in a Riverford Responsible Sourcing Framework.
- Training on modern slavery risks in the workplace and in the supply chain, with a focus on the agriculture and food manufacturing sectors, will be provided to relevant members of Riverford staff.
- We will communicate the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code to all suppliers.
- Our franchisee network will be provided with modern slavery awareness training materials.
- We will begin creating a detailed map of our supply chain, including product transit distances and details of supplier operations (for example number of employees, gender split of employees, the presence of a trade union or workers’ committee).
- Using our newly developed KPIs, we will create a full report on our effectiveness in preventing modern slavery.
This statement has been approved by the Riverford Board of Directors.
Rob Haward, Managing Director
GLAA, 2017. Modern slavery. [online] Available at: http://www.gla.gov.uk/who-we-are/modern-slavery/
ILO, 2017. Global Estimates of Modern Slavery. [online] ILO:Geneva. Available at: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575479.pdf. Accessd on: 25.07.2018.
ETI, 2017. Base Code Guidance: Modern Slavery. [online]. ETI:London. Available at: https://www.ethicaltrade.org/resources/base-code-guidance-modern-slavery. Accessed on: 23.07.2018.
Global Slavery Index, 2018. Global Slavery Index. [online] Available at: https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/data/maps/. Accessed on: 30.08.2018.
National Crime Agency, 2017. National Referral Mechanism Statistics Annual Report. Available at: http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/national-referral-mechanism-statistics/2017-nrm-statistics/884-nrm-annual-report-2017/file. Accessed on: 11/09/2018.