Princes claims ‘industry-first’ human rights assessment on Argentinian pulses

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/Wirestock
Image: Getty/Wirestock

Related tags pulses Argentina Supply chains Human rights

Napolina-owner Princes Group has completed what it claims is a first-of-its-kind Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) into pulses from Argentina – taking a major step forward in evolving its approach to human rights due diligence and supply chain transparency.

Argentina represents around a fifth of Princes Group’s pulse purchases, including chickpeas and cannellini beans.

The UK company, which is owned by Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation, sources Argentinean pulses for a wide range of products under the Group’s Napolina brand, as well as under private label for many UK and continental European supermarkets.

The HRIA assessed all aspects of Princes’ Argentinean pulses value chain to identify and respond to human rights impacts.

The assessment highlighted good working conditions and social security for staff working at Princes suppliers, which were identified as ‘positive impacts’.  

The ‘salient risks’ identified included inaccessibility to grievance mechanisms for farm workers, road safety and vehicle usage at processing sites, the marginalisation of indigenous communities and gender-based violence and harassment. Princes said all of these will be addressed through a robust action plan, with progress reported publicly.

The full HRIA report will be available on the Princes website to share insights and learnings across the wider food and drink industry, and encourage other industry players to implement similar practices.

Princes said it plans to conduct a new HRIA every year from 2023 onwards to gain more understanding across all its priority supply chains.

Paul Williams, Group Head of Environmental & Social Sustainability at Princes, said: “At Princes, we believe that our products should not only be sourced responsibly, but also contribute positively to the lives of those behind them, at all levels of the supply chain. So conducting this assessment in Argentina – a first for our business and the industry more broadly, was a major undertaking that we’re very proud to have completed.

“Through this level of due diligence, we want to future-proof all priority supply chains, taking our approach to mitigating human rights risks and enhancing transparency further than ever before.

“This first HRIA will help Princes and Napolina, as well as our customers and consumers, to ensure the very highest standards are maintained, as the business proudly helps families to eat well, without compromising on quality, ethics or the sustainability standards we all expect.”

Princes is also continuing efforts to combat illegal labour in Italian agriculture

The company processes around 250 million tomato products each year at its Foggia facility, the largest tomato processing site in Europe, across the full Napolina brand portfolio, as well as own-brand products.

Tomatoes have a particular connection to conditions in Italian agriculture and one of the major challenges it faces is the use of illegal labour. Migrant workers in Italy can face exploitation practices driven by illegal ‘gangmasters’ known as Caporale.

The company has already launched various efforts – such as its intention that 100% of the tomatoes processed from its Italian supply chain would come from farms with independent ethical accreditation to minimise the risk of unethical practices.

In May it announced that for second year in a row it has signed pre-harvest tomato supply contracts in southern Italy to guarantee fair pricing and financial stability for around 300 Apulian producers in 2023. 

It said the pricing commitment reflected the current costs of production and will deliver a profitable return to growers ahead of the harvest season. 

The contracts are designed to ensure farmers can invest in resources, while implementing best practices to enhance social and environmental sustainability during harvest season.

“We’re extremely pleased to have finalised all tomato contracts for 2023, delivering on our promise once again to guarantee fair and transparent pricing for growers, well in advance of the harvest season,”​ said David McDiarmid, Corporate Relations Director at Princes. “Committing to pricing that reflects the actual costs of production is the only way to ensure that farmers can remain both profitable and sustainable.”

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