Nestle highlights ongoing abuses in Thai shrimp industry

Nestle highlights ongoing abuses in Thai shrimp industry

Nestle has issued an action plan to tackle forced labour and other human rights abuses in its supply of seafood from Thailand. 

The company commissioned a year-long report into Thai seafood production by NGO Verité. The findings highlighted issues including human trafficking, forced and under-age labour, poor workplace conditions and wages and benefits. 

Nestle stressed the problems are not "unique" nor "limited" to its own seafood supply, with "virtually all companies sourcing seafood in Thailand" exposed to the same risks. 

Nestle said it will make a number of changes in the way in which it sources Thai seafood, including establishing a migrant workforce emergency response team, setting up a grievance mechanism, providing training for captains and boat owners operating in the industry, raising awareness about minimum required labour standards, establishing better traceability of raw materials and enabling verification of labour standards in fishing vessels. 

"Nestle is committed to eliminating forced labour in our seafood supply chain in Thailand, working alongside other stakeholders to tackle this serious and complex issue. We believe that our action plan will help improve the lives of those affected by unacceptable practices," EVP of operations Magdi Batato said. "This will be neither a quick nor an easy endeavour, but we look forward to making significant progress in the months ahead."

Nestle intends to begin rolling out the plan immediately, with implementation throughout 2016. The company also plans to join the Shrimp Sustainable Supply Chain Taskforce, an international alliance of industry, governments and NGOs, in "due course". 

Nestle said it is "not a major purchaser of seafood in South East Asia" but added it will continue to participate in multi stakeholder groups such as the International Labour Organisation Working Group to progress standards across the Thai seafood sector. 

The issue of labour conditions in the Thai seafood sector came into sharp focus in 2014, when accounts of forced labour, torture and murder on board fishing boats providing feed for the Thai shrimp industry were brought to light.

Click here to view our analysis of the challenges facing companies attempting to tackle these issues in their supply chains and the multi stakeholder approach that has largely been favoured by the industry.