Ahold Delhaize has voiced its support for oncoming European legislation that forces companies to address human rights violations throughout the production chain, he Dutch company has stated.
At the moment, there is no law that forces companies to guard human rights. However, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has formulated concrete guidelines for companies, and the European Union is working on such a law.
Ahold Delhaize sees in favour of the initiative for various reasons. First of all, it would significantly reduce the risks of possible abuses, says Hugo Byrnes, Vice President Product Integrity. The supermarket group sells some 200,000 different products worldwide, always being the last link in the production chain. It is a huge task to control all that itself.
Unequal playing field
Ahold Delhaize currently follows the OECD rules, which make companies jointly responsible for any problems in the entire production chain. "We would love it if the OECD guidelines were laid down in law. So that all companies have to participate. Now we are looking for solutions to problems, while some other companies do nothing and are cheaper. It creates inequality in the market", Byrnes told Dutch newspaper Trouw.
One of the initiatives that the group has taken is to publish a human rights report. The points of attention in that report, such as trade union rights or women's rights, are then also discussed in talks with suppliers. In addition, the group applies a whole series of rules that products must comply with.
That Ahold Delhaize, despite its efforts, is still regularly mentioned in critical reports by civil society organisations is no more than logical for Byrnes. After all, tall trees catch a lot of wind. "But the companies that supply us often remain completely out of the picture. When we ask about their policies on deforestation, they sometimes act as if they know nothing about it."
It is an additional reason why the retail group is in favour of the law, as it would be much easier to hold those suppliers accountable. "We think we could then achieve much more than we can now."