THAILAND - The Environmental Justice Foundation has welcomed the announcement by French retail giant Carrefour that it has stopped buying prawns from the Thai supplier CP Foods after a Guardian exposé revealed slavery in the supply chain.
Carrefour, the world’s third most profitable retail group, suspended purchases from the Thai conglomerate as “a precautionary measure” while it carries out audits of its complicated supply chains, found by the Guardian to contain slavery and other serious human rights abuses.
In a further development, Belgian supermarket chain Colruyt announced that it would be returning all remaining stocks of CP Foods products.
While such swift and decisive action by major retailers represents a positive step in the right direction, EJF warned that one Thai company – even one as large as CP – should not be made a scapegoat for a Thai seafood industry whose economic model is predicated on the type of abuse and exploitation exposed by the Guardian.
EJF investigations have revealed serious abuses across the sector involving a number of Thailand’s other major seafood exporting companies. In an industry that employs approximately 650,000 people – around 90 per cent of whom are migrants – slavery and abuse touch almost every corner of the largely export-driven sector.
Steve Trent, Executive Director of EJF, said: “Carrefour’s announcement is welcome news and shows that European retailers are finally waking up to the severity of the abuse in Thailand’s seafood industry. However, CP is just one part of a problem that plagues the entire sector. All companies sourcing seafood from Thailand should be under no illusions that they are selling products tainted by slavery.
"Carrefour’s decision should spur all companies selling Thai seafood to take similar action and carry out rigorous, independent audits of their entire supply chain, no matter who their suppliers are. It should also demonstrate to consumers the power they have in their hands. Consumers should seize this moment to demand their retailers take strong and meaningful action to eradicate slavery from their supply chains.
"Thailand needs to wake up to the fact that global retailers are prepared to restructure their entire supply chains to condemn modern-day slavery. The Thai government should work with industry to take steps to conclusively address forced labour before the Thai economy is further affected by the changing procurement policies of responsible retailers.”
TheFishSite News Desk