"In-work poverty in these supply chains is the norm, not the exception, and gender discrimination is woven into their fabric."

This quote comes from the newly released report from Oxfam; Workers' Rights in Supermarket Supply Chains. The report highlights the fact that the food supply chains are characterised by human, labour and women's rights violations. Some of the issues with certain food products are often highlighted, such as cocao and tea. However, the issues with other products are rarely mentioned to the same extent.

This week marks the opening of the world's most unfair restaurant, which will be open only for a few days. This initiative from Oxfam is, hopefully, an effective way to highlight the issues at hand. For only 2 SEK you will be able to have a three course lunch/dinner. These 2 SEK is the same amount of money the workers makes off the products the dishes are made of. According to the UN, 10 percent of the world population live in extreme poverty and women and girls are considered to be a particularly vulnerable group. Fairtrade states that 78 percent of the world's poor also live in rural areas and often make their living off of agricultural work. These small-scale farmers provide 70 percent of the world's population with food - while they might not be able to feed themselves or their families. And remember, poverty is not only about lack of money. The lack on money leads to several consequences, such as hunger, lack of education, health care et cetera.

Some main issues concerning food supply chains and human rights are the question of earning a living wage and under what conditions the people are working. Just as within the textile industry, the wages are too low and the people within the industry cannot make a decent living off of their salary. Women can work for up to 13 hours a day and still not be able to provide for their families. Discrimination, harsh treatment, exposure to pesticides and child labour are also of great concern.

Oxfam presents a framework with their recommendations for supermarkets:

  • Adopt a human rights due diligence approach

  • Prevent human rights harms in supply chains

  • Achieve positive social impact

It's highly ironic that the people who provide us with food are also the ones at risk of not being able to actually feed themselves. So let's talk more about this. Read the report from Oxfam, share it with your friends and family and let's make it a norm for companies to be transparent and ensure the rights of the workers within their supply chains.

You can read their report here.