Tesco and multi-stakeholder initiatives for responsible sourcing

Tesco and multi-stakeholder initiatives for responsible sourcing

Last updated 23/03/2021

Accord on Building and Fire Safety

In Bangladesh we are part of a joint initiative between brands and the global union IndustriALL called the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord.

The structural safety of buildings and the protection of workers in the event of a fire are major issues of concern. While none of our suppliers were involved in recent tragedies, we view it as our responsibility to ensure the high standards are maintained across our sites and we lend our weight and support to initiatives which improve standards for garment workers across all sites in Bangladesh.

We have 35 colleagues in Dhaka whose job is to support and help to improve standards at the 60 garment factories we work with. We seek to build relationships with our suppliers and build mutual trust. We have committed to supporting the new Transition Accord in Bangladesh, with a view to enabling Bangladeshi regulatory counterparts take back control of these issues and provide long-term benefits to Bangladeshi workers.

ACT – Action, Collaboration, Transformation

Our F&F business is one of 21 brands participating in Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT), an initiative made up of global brands and retailers and trade unions to transform the garment industry and achieve living wages for workers through collective bargaining. It is important that the collective bargaining is at an industry level so workers within a country can negotiate their wages under the same conditions, regardless of the factory they work in, and the retailers and brands they produce for.

We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IndustriALL Global Union that commits us to work with others in the sector to improve wages in key garment sourcing countries through collective bargaining.

Through the initiative we’ve collectively developed a set of Enabling Principles which include addressing living wages through better purchasing practices, improving skills and productivity, freedom of association and collective bargaining and positively engaging with governments. In China, our non-food business is part of ACT which is an initiative between international brands & retailers, manufacturers, and trade unions to address the issue of living wages in the textile and garment supply chain. More information on ACT can be found here.

Aldersgate Group

The Aldersgate Group is an alliance of leaders from business, politics and civil society that drives action for a sustainable economy. Members include some of the largest businesses in the UK with a collective global turnover of over £400bn, leading NGOs, professional institutes, public sector bodies, trade bodies and politicians from across the political spectrum.

Assam tea

Assam is one of our most important tea growing areas, but the large communities involved in tea in this region – one of the poorest in India – face deep-rooted challenges, including the risk of women and children being targeted by traffickers. We continue to fund the Assam Transforming Lives Programme in partnership with Unicef, the Ethical Tea Partnership and other key stakeholders. To date 35,000 adolescent girls and young women in the tea growing regions of Assam have been equipped with the skills and knowledge to protect themselves from various forms of harm, including child marriage and child trafficking. The programme is currently being scaled up to encompass adolescent boys, an essential area of development to change gender norms for the next generation. To date the programme is directly and indirectly improving the lives of an estimated 250,000 women, girls and boys living in Assam. Its reach spans more than a quarter of all tea estates in Assam, and it is the biggest programme of its kind, encompassing child protection communities, better services for mothers and new born babies, improved nutrition, provision of sanitation and hygiene facilitates and access to education.

Better Cotton Initiative

The goal of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future, by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity. As a BCI member, we have committed to sourcing all our cotton responsibly by 2025, this means BCI, organic or recycled.

CBI’s Energy and Climate Change Committee

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is the UK's premier business organisation, providing a voice for firms at a regional, national and international level to policymakers. Its purpose - helping business create a more prosperous society.

Consumer Goods Forum

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries. The CGF has a number of important commitments including a commitment to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020, to eradicate forced labour from member value chains, and to implement The Priority Industry Principles in members’ value chains and operations. These focus on ensuring that every worker has freedom of movement, no worker pays for a job and no worker should be indebted or coerced.

Cool Farm Alliance

The Cool Farm Alliance is a not-for-profit which aims to enable farmers around the world to reduce their environmental impact. Members include other retailers and food companies, including major brands like PepsiCo as well as smaller Tesco suppliers, NGOs and other industry bodies. It owns the Cool Farm Tool, an online carbon calculator which we and other members use in various agricultural supply chains. Tesco was one of the founding members in 2012.

Corporate Leaders Group

The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) is a select group of European business leaders working together under the patronage of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to advocate solutions on climate change to policymakers and business peers within the EU and globally.

Equapak Foundation

Tesco is the main source of funding for this Foundation which aims to improve social conditions for banana workers, their families and communities in Equapak farms in the south of Ecuador. The foundation involves Equapak, their customers, the Ecuadorean Government and other NGOs. In the last three years, more than 3000 direct beneficiaries have participated in health, education and physical rehabilitation services. Stronger integration between the exporter (Equapak), the farmers, workers and communities benefit all the participants

Ethical Trading Initiative Italian Agriculture Working Group

Recognising the risks associated with labour employed in the agriculture sector in Italy, we are members of the ETI Italian Agriculture Working Group. This group is currently developing a set of capacity building materials on good labour practices targeting cooperatives. Led by a local consultant, the overarching aim is to build trust among local processors and cooperatives, encouraging further collaboration and dialogue on wider issues pertaining to labour practices in the industry, such as the caporalato recruitment system.

Ethical Tea Partnership

Tesco is an active member of The Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) a not for profit organisation that convenes the tea industry, development partners, NGOs and governments to improve the lives of tea workers, farmers and the environment in which they live and work. ETP’s priority is to work on long-term programmes to tackle the deep-rooted issues and some of the most complex challenges that tea workers and communities are facing. Tesco work closely with ETP’s expert teams to develop, coordinates and implements a range of programmes across Africa and Asia to create a fairer, more sustainable tea industry for tea workers, farmers and the environment.

Ethical Trading Initiative

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers' rights around the globe. The ETI provides a platform to collectively tackle issues that cannot be addressed by individual companies working alone. All corporate members of ETI agree to adopt the ETI Base Code of labour practice, which is based on the standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ETI supports businesses to take the most effective steps to implement the Base Code in their supply chains. Tesco have been members since 1998. We are currently members of four working groups including the Peru working group and working group for Italian tomatoes described above.

Food Industry Intelligence Network (FIIN)

Tesco is part of The Food Industry Intelligence Network (Fiin) which was established in 2015 to help ensure the integrity of food supply chains and protect the interests of the consumer. The network addresses the recommendations of the ‘Elliott report’, which was commissioned by DEFRA, to establish a ‘safe haven’ to collect, collate, analyse and disseminate information and intelligence. The Food Technical and Agriculture Director sits on the board of Fiin.

Food Network for Ethical Trade (FNET)

Since 2016, we have been part of a joint supplier and retailer network which works to develop our suppliers’ ability to implement a human rights strategy and identifies areas of limited leverage where collaboration is needed. FNET currently has three workstreams focused on: risk assessment and mitigation, collaboration in the areas of transport and logistics, recruitment fees, spices and worker representation and internal and supply chain ethical engagement.

Global Coffee Platform

Tesco joined the Global Coffee Platform (GCP) in 2018. The GCP focuses on enabling its members and partners (producers, international roasters, traders, donors, NGOs, and governments) to align and multiply their efforts and investments, collectively act on local priorities and critical issues, and scale successful sustainability initiatives across the sector. As the first UK retailer to join the Global Coffee Platform, Tesco embraces the exchange of good practice to create a resilient, sustainable coffee industry. Tesco is committed to sharing coffee purchasing details with the GCP to promote sustainable coffee sourcing practices throughout the industry.

Global Ghost Gear Initiative

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is the world's largest cross-sectorial alliance committed to driving solutions to the problem of lost, abandoned and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG also known as "Ghost Gear") worldwide. Tesco is a corporate participant in this initiative, through which they partly fund Fishing For Litter.

Global Tuna Alliance

The Global Tuna Alliance is an independent group of retailers and tuna supply chain companies, who are committed to realising harvest strategies for tuna fisheries, avoidance of IUU products, improved traceability as well as environmental sustainability, and progressing work on human rights in tuna fisheries and to implementing the objectives laid out in World Economic Forum’s Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration as championed by Friends of Ocean Action.

Tesco is a member and it sits in the Steering Committee.

Global Tea Coalition

Tesco joined the Global Tea Coalition (GTC) in 2020 as the only retailer in the group alongside multinational tea brands, producers and NGO’s. Tesco is an active member of two dedicated GTC workstreams. The first looking to improve the economic sustainability of the industry so that everyone involved in producing tea in our supply chains has good livelihoods, workers earns a living wage and farmers a living income. The second is focused on developing empowered, safe tea communities with good opportunities for women and young people.

Issara Institute

The Issara Institute is an independent NGO based in Southeast Asia tackling issues of trafficking and forced labour through data, technology, partnership, and innovation. Issara links global brands and retailers, regional suppliers, technical experts, and local service providers to coordinate targeted action to eliminate trafficking in global supply chains. This includes educating workers in Tesco’s supply chains on their labour rights as well as off-site worker interviews. Tesco have been supporting the project since 2014. The Issara Institute also provides us specific site reports so we can identify issues and work with our suppliers to improve working conditions for migrant workers. See their most recent impact report here.

Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment

Responsible recruitment is a vital part of Tesco’s work to ensure good labour standards throughout our business and supply chains. The Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment is a collaboration between leading companies and expert organisations to drive positive change in the way that migrant workers are recruited.

Ocean Disclosure Project

The Ocean Disclosure Project (ODP) works towards the goal of 100% sustainably produced seafood by coordinating efforts to deliver greater transparency in global seafood supply chains. With the vision that greater transparency in seafood sourcing will drive improvements in fisheries and aquaculture and help reduce the environmental and social impacts of seafood production. The ODP supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 14: Life Below Water.

Tesco annually reports all their wild sources and these are publicly shared in their in the ODP platform: https://oceandisclosureproject.org/companies/tesco


Run by the campaigning organisation The Climate Group, this campaign aims to accelerate the scale-up of renewable power to help deliver a better, healthier and more sustainable world. It encourages business to sign up to sourcing 100% Renewable Electricity, Tesco has signed up to achieve this by 2030.

Responsible Car Wash Scheme (RCWS)

A collaborative initiative leading the Car Wash industry to help prevent exploitation and protect against risk for workers that could be in forms of modern slavery. It brings together retailers, government and non-government organisations to create an industry standard to address environmental and health and safety risks whilst promoting good business practises. More details can be found here.

Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTi)

The SBTi is a collaboration between the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The initiative’s overall aim is that by 2020, science-based target setting will become standard business practice and corporations will play a major role in driving down global greenhouse gas emissions. Tesco set ambitious science-based carbon reduction commitments in 2017.

Seafood Ethics Action Alliance

The Seafood Ethics Action Alliance (SEAA) has been established by the seafood industry to provide a platform for joint work on human rights in the fishing sector, to share information on emerging issues, agree best practice solutions, and provide a forum for collective pre-competitive action.


Sedex is an ethical trade member organisation, working with businesses to improve working conditions in global supply chains. Through the Sedex online platform we obtain visibility of our suppliers ethical audits. This data gives us visibility of ethical issues at a site level and helps us to ensure correction actions are implemented. Tesco also sits on a number of Sedex’s working groups to help shape the organisations’ activities.

Spanish Ethical Forums

Alongside other UK retailers and importers, we continue to support the Spanish Ethical Trade Forums, which aim to raise awareness of labour issues in agricultural supply chains. The forums hosted regular events and seminars, either locally or online, which are attended by our first-tier suppliers and growers. 9 working groups continue to complement the forums. These groups seek to develop tools to further support growers in the region, for example a guide on the responsible use of recruitment agencies and resources relating to Covid-19.

Stronger Together

Strong Together is a multi-stakeholder business-led initiative aiming to reduce modern slavery. Through our sponsorship of the initiative, we have enabled all our UK-based suppliers (end to end in the supply chain) to attend a Stronger Together ‘Tackling Modern Slavery’ training session free of charge. Approximately 50% of our primary site into Tesco UK are based in the UK and of these over 85% have attended this training. We also provide Stronger Together training for all relevant sourcing colleagues and to all relevant supply chain actors in South Africa.

The ETI Tamil Nadu Programme

Some women in the Tamil Nadu garment industry are recruited through Sumangali and similar schemes; contracts under which they are paid a lump sum at the end of a three-year period, leaving them vulnerable to abuse in the interim. We monitor our direct suppliers closely to ensure no such practices exist in our supply chain and are mapping our ‘second tier’ supply chain in India, including spinning mills, washing, printing and dyeing facilities and have begun visits to the spinners identified. We are also part of the ETI programme providing training to mills across the region.

Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform

The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform is a not-for-profit and is the primary global food & drink value chain initiative for sustainable agriculture. It has over 90 members, including major brands and retailers. SAI Platform develops tools and guidance to support global and local sustainable sourcing and agriculture practices. Tesco joined in 2016.

Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (SIZA)

In South Africa we have worked with industry and other stakeholders through SIZA to develop the following resources to support our citrus, grape, top fruit and stone fruit supply chains:

  • Accommodation guidelines
  • Transport guidelines
  • Ethical Trade handbook
  • Tesco Training Fund
  • Induction training for workers on their rights and responsibilities in the workplace – SIZA Visa
  • Leadership and mentorship programmes including a strong focus on women.

Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership's (SFP) mission is to engage and catalyse global seafood supply chains in rebuilding depleted fish stocks and reducing the environmental impacts of fishing and fish farming. Since its founding in 2006, SFP has been leading and catalysing fishery and aquaculture improvement projects globally by convening, educating, and advising supply chain stakeholders.

SFP works with Tesco’s suppliers to collect data on our seafood sourcing through SFP Metrics, and to promote improvement in our source fisheries.

Sustainable Seafood Coalition

Tesco has been a member of the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) since 2011. The Coalition is a partnership of UK businesses that works to ensure a healthy future for our oceans, with the vision that all fish and seafood sold in the UK comes from sustainable sources. Our membership forms part of our broader strategy on responsibly sourcing seafood.

UN Global Compact

The UN Global Compact aims to mobilize a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders so that businesses are supported to do business responsibly by aligning their strategies and operations with ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and by taking strategic actions to advance broader societal goals, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation.

UN High Commission for Refugees, Syria

We have started to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey to train our suppliers to identify and support any refugee employees. We know that refugees, particularly from Syria, are at high risk of trafficking and exploitation and we aim to expand this work with Unseen and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in our berry supply chains in Jordan over the coming year.

World Banana Forum

We are a leading member of the World Banana Forum, a not for profit organisation housed with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) which is part of the UN, where we engage with producers, industry organizations such as CORBANA, AUGURA and AEBE, governments, academic organisations and development agencies to promote positive change in the banana industry. We also support NGOs and Trade Unions such as Banana Link, COLSIBA (Confederation of Latin American Banana Trade Unions), FENACLE of Ecuador, SINTRAINAGRO of Colombia, SITRAP of Costa Rica among other workers’ organisations to ensure their voices are heard and make progress on wages and decent working conditions. Tesco promotes dialogue and consensus building within the World Banana Forum to ensure the sustainability and social responsibility of the international banana trade. We have provided financial support to the BOHESI project to ensure better health and safety conditions in banana farms in Latin America and Africa.

We sit on the WBF Gender Conference Organizing Committee (GCOC) to ensure the development of joint strategies and activities on key issues facing women working in global banana supply chains and help fund this work. We are currently working with members of the World Banana Forum to ensure that gender is established firmly on the banana industry agenda.

World Cocoa Foundation

Tesco has been a member of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) since 2015. This multi-stakeholder industry platform seeks to create a sustainable and profitable cocoa economy, thereby improving the lives of cocoa producers and their families. Through our membership, sourcing and work with our suppliers, we support the work of the Foundation to increase the positive impact of cocoa production on the communities that depend on it. Through the WCF we are able to advocate towards governments for better support for small-scale farmers. We have also signed the Cocoa and Forests Initiative to end deforestation and restore forest areas in Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana.

Women’s Safety Accelerator Fund

The Women’s Safety Accelerator Fund (WSAF) is a bold new program to address women’s safety and gender-based violence in the Indian tea sector. The project has been set up by IDH - the Sustainable Trade Initiative and Tesco will be funding the initiative which will provide resources, tools, technical assistance, and specialised services for tea producers and workers in the tea sector in Assam. The WSAF aims to develop a model that will build a common understanding that is applicable to other commodity sectors in agricultural value chains.