PLEASANTON, Calif. — Carl Graziani, senior vice president, supply chain for Safeway here, is encouraging retailers and CPG manufacturers to begin “mapping their [global] supply chains” in an effort to identify suppliers with suspect labor practices that could include human trafficking and slavery.
“As an industry, we need to think about how we can do this collectively,” he said earlier this month at the Supply Chain Conference, held in Orlando, Fla., by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.”Individually, it’s a monumental task.” He suggested an industry initiative to share information, as well as establish a database and standards.
Safeway and other large food retailers based in California have been required over the past year to disclose to consumers on their websites what actions, if any, they are taking to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their global supply chain, per California’s Supply Chain Transparency Act (SB 657).
Safeway has also begun the laborious process of analyzing its supply chain, including private label and national brands, to determine whether its products are “responsibly managed or not,” said Graziani. “We could have more than one million links in the supply chain and we’re somehow going to have to do risk assessments on each product we carry.”
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In one case with a private label supplier, Safeway “uncovered some things and made changes,” Graziani said, declining to elaborate.
Other states are considering the passage of bills similar to the California law, said Graziani. At the federal level, the Senate this week adopted an amendment to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) that aims at ensuring that consumers don’t buy products made by forced labor. The act also passed and awaits action in the House of Representatives.
According to Not for Sale, a group focused on ending human trafficking and slavery, the modern-day slave trade impacts more than 30 million people and amounts to a $32 billion-a-year industry.