Aldi doesn’t care about workers, but its customers do, says Oxfam

Aldi customers care more about fair working conditions in the supply chain than those who shop at other major supermarkets. However, Aldi came bottom of an independent scorecard this year that assessed human rights policies in the food chain.

The new YouGov poll, commissioned by Oxfam, showed that 87% of Aldi shoppers believe it is important for the supermarket to ensure that workers around the world who produce the discounter’s food earn enough for at least a basic standard of living. Even more (88%) wanted assurances that producers were not working in inhumane conditions.

The survey of 6,413 adults, of which 2,413 respondents mainly or regularly shop at Aldi, also found that 48% of Aldi customers would consider switching to a different supermarket if they knew it had policies and practices to ensure workers around the world had safe working conditions and decent wages.

The findings come just two weeks after the retailer announced that 1.1 million shoppers had switched to Aldi last year. The chain also expects to open another 130 stores in the UK over the next two years and expand to 1,200 stores by 2025. Aldi currently has a 7% share of the grocery market – sales in the UK and Ireland increased 16.4% to £10.2 billion last year.

In June, Aldi placed bottom of an Oxfam scorecard, which assessed the publicly available food supply chain policies and practices of six of the biggest supermarkets in the UK – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl.

The scorecard assessed supermarkets against four themes: workers, transparency, small-scale farmers and women. Aldi’s current overall score is 1% and it was the only supermarket to score zero in the workers’ theme, which assessed the extent to which supermarkets have put in place measures to ensure workers’ rights are respected in their food supply chains. Tesco, which was top, scored 23%.

An Aldi spokeswoman said the analysis by Oxfam was out of date and “misleading”. She said the company has “comprehensive policies in place to ensure that everyone in our supply chain who makes, grows and supplies our products is treated fairly”.

She added: “We are meeting with Oxfam later this month to provide them with more accurate information and we are disappointed that they have taken this action before meeting with us to fully understand our policies and practices.”

The YouGov poll also showed that 54% of consumers think that farmers and workers from developing countries who produce food for UK supermarkets should receive more than 10% of the end till price. Some 26% of respondents said producers’ share should be 25%. Oxfam’s research across 12 common food products shows that farmers and workers currently receive on average less than 6%.

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