Five retail groups operating in Belgium have joined forces and pledged to ensure a living wage for workers in their international banana supply chain.
The coalition aims to close the living wage gap by the end of 2027 for their collective banana volumes sold on the Belgian market, according to a Colruyt Group press release.
The project is being supported by IDH - the sustainable trade initiative, and involves Colruyt Group, Delhaize, Aldi, Lidl Belgium and Luxembourg, and Jumbo.
According to Colruyt, the initiative is 'a major step' for the Belgian market and adds to the efforts of similar commitments from German and Dutch retailers.
In Belgium, the per capita consumption of banana was about 7.8 kilograms in 2021, according to data from Statista.
These bananas are mainly sourced from Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Colombia, Colruyt noted.
Karen Janssens, sustainable sourcing expert at Colruyt said, "At Colruyt Group, we believe it is the responsibility of the entire chain to ensure that workers on banana plantations have a living wage.
"Together with our suppliers, we therefore set up long-term partnerships to identify and eliminate wage gaps."
A living wage ensures that, in a particular time and place, the remuneration received by a worker is sufficient to afford a decent standard of living for the worker and their family, the retailer said.
A decent standard of living is determined by food, water, housing, education, healthcare, transport, and other essential requirements, such as provision for unexpected events.
The coalition formed by retailers in Belgium will set joint objectives, exchange knowledge and learnings, align on approaches and timings, monitor progress, and initiate joint action on the ground, where possible.
The retailer believes that working together will significantly increase the potential impact for workers on the ground.
'A Collaborative Approach'
Astrid Baeten from IDH, said, "When it comes to food system transformation, a collaborative approach is more efficient as the impact of individual parties can be limited, especially when buyers have a small market share and suppliers sell their harvest to multiple buyers."
The retailers will also collaborate with other existing living wage coalitions, such as the Dutch Retail Commitment on Living Wages and the German Retailers Working Group on Living Wages and Living Income.
© 2022 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest supply chain news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.