Log In | Enquiry

Home / Modern Slavery Statement

Modern Slavery Statement

Statement for 2020/2021

This statement is made in relation to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and sets out the steps that we took in the financial year 2020/2021 to ensure that modern slavery or human trafficking does not take place within our business or supply chain. Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, human trafficking and forced labour.

Organisation and supply chain structure

Suma is the UK’s largest independent wholefood wholesaler/distributor, specialising in vegetarian, fairly traded, organic, ethical and natural products. We buy products from across the globe. About a quarter of these are sold under our own Suma Wholefoods brand. The rest are products from other brands and bulk food products. 

We are a fully democratic worker co-operative. All co-operative members and employees receive the same gross hourly rate of pay, no matter what their job or responsibilities. We have been a Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union branch for over 30 years. We operate from two linked sites in West Yorkshire, and a small hub in London. All workers are based in the UK at one or more of these sites.

As a worker co-operative, we are guided by the co-operative values and principles. We are committed to equality, democracy, transparency and wellbeing in our business, and members of our co-op collectively take responsibility for upholding these values. You can find out more about what this means for our workers and our supply chain on our values page.

Policies and commitments on modern slavery 

We operate a number of internal policies to ensure that we are conducting business in an ethical and transparent manner. These include:

  1. Recruitment policy. We operate a robust recruitment policy, including conducting eligibility to work in the UK checks for all employees to safeguard against human trafficking or individuals being forced to work against their will.
  2. Whistleblowing. We have a ‘speak up, listen up’ approach to whistleblowing concerns, in line with CIPD best practice. We want people to feel empowered to raise concerns without fear of reprisal. 
  3. Buying Statement that outlines our product listing criteria.
  4. Code of business conduct. We are committed to compliance with the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code which consists of the following criteria:
    1. Employment is freely chosen
    2. Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected 
    3. Working conditions are safe and hygienic
    4. Child labour shall not be used
    5. Living wages are paid
    6. Working hours are not excessive
    7. No discrimination is practised
    8. Regular employment is provided
    9. No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed

Due diligence processes

We select partners and suppliers based on their environmental and human rights record. Suppliers are required to complete an ethical supplier questionnaire, and provide us with information such as minimum age requirements for employees, measures taken to prevent human trafficking, assurance that no forced or bonded labour is used. 

We require suppliers to adhere to the ETI base code, and in turn to hold their suppliers to the same standards. When we have problems with the quality or practices of suppliers we will take appropriate action. This could be working more closely with them to help solve the problem, investing financially to help with training or equipment, visiting them ourselves, sending an independent auditor, or delisting the supplier.

Staff training 

Several of our buyers have attained CIPS Level 6 Professional Diploma Procurement and Supply, and are CIPS members. CIPS have a strong position on Modern Slavery, which remains a key theme for this global organisation. For 2021/22 we have planned in training for all workers that are involved in approving suppliers and managing supplier relationships. 

Our performance indicators

We will know the effectiveness of the steps that we are taking to ensure that slavery and/or human trafficking is not taking place within our business or supply chain if:

  1. No reports are received from employees, the public, or law enforcement agencies to indicate that modern slavery practices have been identified.
  2. We discover no issues in due diligence checks around new and existing suppliers.
  3. None of our suppliers are featured in campaigns or articles from pressure groups and publications such as The Food Empowerment Project, Ethical Consumer etc.

Approval for this statement

This statement was approved by the Suma Board.