PMA, United Fresh to expand Joint Committee on Responsible Labor Practices
U.S.-based industry groups the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association plan to augment a recently formed joint committee that proactively addresses the issue of responsible labor practices.
The groups' boards of directors formed the joint committee in late 2015 - launched with 16 members equally divided among produce suppliers and buyers - and to date have had two meetings discussing goals and objectives.
Now the committee is looking for additional expertise and has made a request for proposals aimed at engaging a consultant with expertise in the field.
"Responsible labor practices are an important issue for our industry, and we recognize the growing interest of stakeholders in transparency throughout the global supply chain," said the groups' chairmen Russ Mounce (Sam's Club, PMA) and Brian Kocher (Castellini Group of Companies, United Fresh).
"This Joint Committee is working to help ensure our industry has a clear and well-defined commitment to treat all workers with dignity and respect as they work to bring fresh produce to consumers.
"Members have met to discuss the wide range of information available on labor issues, which supports an industrywide approach to help drive consensus across the produce and floral supply chain and increase consumers' confidence that the produce they buy is responsibly sourced."
Mounce and Kocher emphasized the input and collaboration of many stakeholders on the issue was important for driving real change.
"We know that multiple perspectives are critical to bringing consensus and positive movement. It is also important to acknowledge the huge diversity among commodities, growing regions and cultural practices in the broad produce and floral industry.
"We want to meet with grower organizations, labor employers and others serving different aspects of the supply chain to ensure that we understand their specific views and incorporate their thinking into any future action."
The committee will meet in late June, and will review and approve a workplan for the consultant.
"We want our members to know that this will not be a short process or an easy one. But, we believe this is a critical discussion we need to have as an industry."