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Modern Slavery Statement

This statement sets out the steps that Suma Wholefoods has taken to ensure that modern slavery or human trafficking does not take place within our business or supply chain during the period from October 2021 to September 2022.

Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, human trafficking and forced labour. Suma has a zero-tolerance approach to any form of modern slavery. We are committed to acting with integrity and transparency in all business dealings and maintaining effective systems and controls to safeguard against modern slavery within our business and supply chain.

Our structure, business and supply chains

Suma is 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 had 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. Suma is the UK’s largest independent wholefood wholesaler/distributor, specialising in vegetarian, fairly traded, organic, ethical and natural products.

Our policies relating to slavery and human trafficking

In July 2022 we introduced a Modern Slavery Policy. This lays out our detailed commitments to protecting the people in our supply chain. It sets in stone a commitment to continual improvement in managing social issues, through strengthening our supplier approval and risk management and introducing a formal supplier Code of Conduct.

We operate a number of related 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. All new starters are issued with an induction pack stating that ‘whistleblowing’ (as defined by the Public Interest (Disclosure) Act 1998) will not be deemed a ‘serious breach of Confidence’ under the terms of our Disciplinary and Dismissal procedures.
  3. Buying Policy. read our buying policy

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

Our new supplier approval process is built around ensuring that suppliers are fully compliant with this code.

Due diligence processes

All our suppliers are asked to complete a supplier ethical questionnaire. Our Modern Slavery Policy forms part of our agreement with brand suppliers and they are required to confirm that no part of their business operations contradict this policy.

Where we identify problems with the quality or practices of suppliers we take appropriate action. This could be working more closely with them to help solve the problem, sharing resources, collaborating to improve capacity, investing financially to help with training or equipment, or in some cases ending our relationship with suppliers.

We have committed to reviewing our supply chain annually to identify high-risk regions, industries and goods. Further research and investigation has been prioritised according to the highest risk areas, and we have enacted supplier-level information gathering to address areas of concern.

Steps taken to manage risk in our business and supply chain

  1. We created a supply chain map to give an overview of which Suma products are sourced from countries with a high risk of modern slavery
  2. Developed supplier prioritisation criteria, to determine which suppliers to focus on in risk assessments
  3. Developed resources for internal teams involved in supplier management, including guidance documents on complying with modern slavery principles
  4. Developed, consulted on and agreed a business-wide Modern Slavery Policy

Effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and trafficking is not taking place, with
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 our 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.

Training on slavery and human trafficking that we provide

This year we partnered with Stronger Together to introduce modern slavery awareness training for all workers involved in selecting and approving suppliers (our Buying Team, Product Developers and Quality Control Team). We have put processes in place to ensure that all new team members receive this training in future.

Approval for this statement

This statement was approved by the Suma Board.