The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association are launching an Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices, a framework for responsible labor practices in fresh produce and floral supply chains. The boards of directors of both PMA and United Fresh began this effort two years ago to create an industrywide framework that supports the dignity of workers who are critical in bringing fresh fruits, vegetables and floral products to consumers.
The boards approved the charter in January, with more than 40 companies formally endorsing it. These include retail and foodservice companies Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Walmart and Wegmans, as well as numerous companies that produce fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers. PMA and United Fresh will now encourage companies throughout the produce and floral supply chains to add their endorsement and join this growing community.
In formally launching the Ethical Charter, PMA and United Fresh aim to raise awareness, encourage commitment to the charter and its principles, and provide tools and resources to promote responsible labor standards across the fresh produce and floral industry. A range of tools and resources are being made available to the industry, including measurement criteria, a self-assessment form, a responsible sourcing guide and an endorsement packet for companies to use in communicating their commitment.
“The Ethical Charter and its principles reflect the desire of our members to converge and harmonize the many positive efforts that already exist to enhance working conditions,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. “We have both success stories in our industry and progress still to be made. We are providing these resources to encourage additional companies to endorse the Ethical Charter and demonstrate a commitment to workplace safety, respect for worker dignity, compliance with applicable laws and to building a shared understanding across the industry on responsible labor practices.”
“We recognize and applaud all the good work already being done in this area both through advocacy and action, but we also recognize we have a responsibility to do more as companies and individuals to advance this cause,” said Cathy Burns, PMA CEO. “Public launch of the charter supported by key endorsers should drive further collaboration, momentum and endorsement. Central tenets to success include education, continuous learning and progress, and day-to-day behavior and actions.”
Work on developing the Ethical Charter began in late 2015 when the boards of PMA and United Fresh formed the Joint Committee on Responsible Labor Practices to develop an industrywide framework. This committee of buyers and suppliers incorporated input from association members, expert consultants, key stakeholders and public comments to develop a draft charter. Brian Kocher of Castellini Group of Companies co-chaired the committee on behalf of United Fresh, while Russell Mounce of Sam’s Club co- chaired on behalf of PMA.
“As a member of the PMA board, I’ve been involved in this work because it is important to us, the industry and our customers,” said Mounce. “This is an important step in our ongoing efforts to support the dignity of workers, wherever they may be in our supply chains.”
“We worked hard to build consensus on the fundamentals of responsible labor practices, as well as measurement criteria that will demonstrate compliance with these principles,” said Kocher. “We are now inviting all industry members to endorse the Charter, and to commit to its unified guiding principles. Further commitment and progress will benefit the entire industry.”
For more details, visit www.ethicalcharter.com.