Sundays River Citrus Company said retailers could have implemented own standards if industry had not acted

Sundays River Citrus Company said retailers could have implemented own standards if industry had not acted

A South African ethical benchmark and auditing process that aims to guarantee local fruit is produced in line with acceptable labour and environment standards has been launched.

The standard is aligned to South African labour law and was developed by members of industry group Fruit South Africa with the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP), an organisation promoting harmonised business ethics worldwide. Called the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (Siza), the standard will be sent to group members in November.

Speaking to just-food, Tania Moodley, head of UK retailer Tesco's ethical programme in South Africa, hailed it as a "world leading initiative which has been benchmarked internationally and adapted to meet local needs".

Christo Theron, of Sundays River Citrus Company of the Eastern Cape, which helped develop the standard, told just-food bad local labour practices risked prompting international buyers to introduce their own rules.

"We know each supermarket was on the point of bringing in its own ethical standard, and the cost to comply with this would have been significant to producers. By getting together and building one standard, we prevented having to adhere to different ethical standards for each supermarket," he said.