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Ethical Consumer Best Buy Label

Suma and Ethical Consumer Working Together

Ethical Consumer Magazine is the UK’s leading alternative consumer magazine, providing the tools and resources to enable you to make informed choices about what you buy and who you buy it from. Published 6 times a year, Ethical Consumer’s primary goal is making global businesses more sustainable through consumer pressure, whether that comes from being an activist at the check-out, in the home, the work place or the community.

Suma has a long-standing relationship with Ethical Consumer and has been a Best Buy company for many years now. Our continued commitment to ethics has led Ethical Consumer to describe us as “a real trailblazer within the co-operatives movement and beyond”. The Best Buy label confirms what many will already know and offers an independent voice of reassurance to those who are new to the Suma brand.

At Suma we are constantly working to ensure a continued commitment to ethics: within our organisation and our community and in all our partnerships with customers and suppliers and the products we supply. However we are well aware that placing ethics at the core of everything we do is an ongoing task and there is always more to be done. Read more about the Ethical Consumer Best Buy Label and how we are rated.

Ethical Consumer Best Buy Label

We have been rated and received a Best Buy in a number of markets including: Breakfast Cereals, Ground Coffee, Household Cleaners, Laundry Detergent and Washing Powder. Our products score between 12 and 13 points on the Ethical Consumer scoring system, always putting them near the top of the table and eligible for the Best Buy label.

Ethical Consumer’s Best Buy is a unique consumer product label that looks in detail at the ethical record of the company behind the products, as well as the environmental and ethical credentials of the product itself.  Ethical Consumer refer to this label as “the gold standard in ethical shopping and only a handful of companies are eligible to receive it”.

Receiving the label is based on how well an organisation scores in the Ethical Consumer product guides. Each guide contains ranking tables which rates brands in four main category areas – people, animals, politics and environment – plus product sustainability. In each of these categories brands are rated on both their ethical policies and their actual behaviour before giving them a score out 20 and ranking them against other brands in their market.

You can find out more about the Ethical Consumer scoring system on their website.

Ethical Consumer Comments about Suma

Suma currently holds the label for 15 own brand products, more than any other company. These are mainly for its food range but also for household cleaners and some cosmetics. It’s only able to achieve labelled products across this many areas because ethics are so firmly embedded within the co-operative. We rate companies behind the brands. We know that sometimes while a company can offer one or two sustainable brands the company themselves aren’t up to scratch, this clearly isn’t the case with Suma.

These embedded ethics are a characteristic that the organisation shares with many other co-operatives and the company receives an additional mark on our scoring system for being a co-op. We give mutuals an additional mark to reflect the fact that co-operatives are about so much more than the pursuit of profit.

The company also rate well on the treatment of animals scoring best rating in our animal rights category. They are a vegetarian company and sell only vegetarian foods. Their household products and cosmetics are cruelty-free and approved by the BUAV and the Vegan Society. This use of ethical product labelling also extends to many of its food products. The company receives additional marks in our product sustainability categories, for example its ground coffee and rice are both certified organic and Fairtrade.

A hot topic at the moment which Suma have done well on is palm oil – receiving Ethical Consumer’s best rating for palm oil transparency. Amongst other things the company give details (including figures) on the use of crude/refined palm oil, palm kernel oil and palm-based derivatives, and named the company’s suppliers of palm oil and palm oil derivatives.

And in the future…
This is not to say that the organisation is perfect. Elsewhere in our environment category the company scores poorly for its environmental policy (a worst Ethical Consumer rating). This is because the company no longer has to provide future qualified targets and the report is not independently audited.
The company only receives an Ethical Consumer middle rating for its supply chain management and there are a number of areas where the company could improve. This includes having a supply chain policy that includes clauses on maximum working hours and the payment of the living wage.
We know that these things will improve over time and Ethical Consumer is always on hand as a critical friend to help improve standards.
In such an ethical business we know that making further improvements can be a challenge but we also know that consumers and suppliers value these changes making them worthwhile beyond ethics for ethics sake.

Our Plans for Future Ethical Improvements

Based on Ethical Consumer feedback we are reviewing our environmental reporting and looking to get this audited externally, since we are proud of our environmental efforts but don’t currently record them systematically.

We have also started sending out a questionnaire to our suppliers to enable improved supply chain management and transparency.

We review our policies and procedures on an ongoing basis to ensure ethics remain at the core of our cooperative.