PMA and United Fresh launch Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices

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PMA and United Fresh launch Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association have launched the 'Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices', a framework for responsible labor practices in fresh produce and floral supply chains.  

Photograph by James Rodríguez © 2013 Fair Trade USA. All Rights Reserved

The boards of directors of both PMA and United Fresh began this effort two years ago to create an industrywide framework that supports the dignity of workers who are critical in bringing fresh fruits, vegetables and floral products to consumers.

Consumer demand to know more about the food they eat has been rising sharply over recent years, and a damning investigation into worker abuse on Mexican farms published by the LA Times in 2014 gained widespread attention.

The boards approved the charter in January - following the publication of a draft in January 2017 - with more than 40 companies formally endorsing the charter, including Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Walmart and Wegmans.

PMA and United Fresh will now encourage companies throughout the produce and floral supply chains to add their endorsement and join this growing community.

In formally launching the Ethical Charter, PMA and United Fresh say they aim to raise awareness, encourage commitment to the charter and its principles, and provide tools and resources to promote responsible labor standards across the fresh produce and floral industry.

“The Ethical Charter and its principles reflect the desire of our members to converge and harmonize the many positive efforts that already exist to enhance working conditions,” said United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel.

“We have both success stories in our industry and progress still to be made. We are providing these resources to encourage additional companies to endorse the Ethical Charter and demonstrate a commitment to workplace safety, respect for worker dignity, compliance with applicable laws, and to building a shared understanding across the industry on responsible labor practices.”

PMA CEO Cathy Burns said she applauded all the good work already being done in this area both through advocacy and action, but added "we also recognize we have a responsibility to do more as companies and individuals to advance this cause."

“Public launch of the Charter supported by key endorsers should drive further collaboration, momentum and endorsement. Central tenets to success include education, continuous learning and progress, and day-to-day behavior and actions.” 

Work on developing the Ethical Charter began in late 2015 when the boards of PMA and United Fresh formed the joint committee on responsible labor practices to develop an industry-wide framework. This committee of buyers and suppliers incorporated input from association members, expert consultants, key stakeholders and public comments to develop a draft charter.

Brian Kocher of Castellini Group of Companies co-chaired the committee on behalf of United Fresh, while Russell Mounce of Sam’s Club co-chaired on behalf of PMA.

“As a member of the PMA Board, I’ve been involved in this work because it is important to us, the industry and our customers,” said Mounce. “This is an important step in our ongoing efforts to support the dignity of workers, wherever they may be in our supply chains.”

“We worked hard to build consensus on the fundamentals of responsible labor practices, as well as measurement criteria that will demonstrate compliance with these principles,” said Kocher. “We are now inviting all industry members to endorse the Charter, and to commit to its unified guiding principles. Further commitment and progress will benefit the entire industry.”

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