The Food Network for Ethical Trade (FNET) started as a conversation between food suppliers and retailers about the need for a common human rights risk assessment and has evolved into 55 companies working together to identify and tackle their common human rights risks.
We aim to:
- Create a safe, non-competitive, space for collaboration on ethical trade issues
- Build member capability and capacity to manage and resolve ethical trade issues in our supply chains
- Provide credible, timely and relevant insights and horizon scanning on ethical trade issues that impact our supply chains
- Work with and influence other ethical trade initiatives and stakeholders to avoid duplication and increase leverage
Members are able to access a number of resources to support the development of a human rights due diligence approach, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the requirements of the UK’s Modern Slavery Act. Resources include the FNET ethical trade risk assessment tool which identifies the human rights risks of ingredients and raw materials and supports companies to prioritise where to focus their resources along their supply chains.
Members are also actively involved in six working groups which cover:
- Risk Assessment and Mitigation – supporting members rollout their ethical trade risk assessment and identify steps to take to prevent or mitigate (reduce) the risks identified
- Recruitment Fees – to support members to map the payment of recruitment fees in their supply chain and remediate any fees identified
- Worker Representation – aiming to improve the effectiveness of workforce representation in members operations and supply chains through improved transparency of the challenges faced and an increased understanding of best practice
- Raw Materials – helping members to map spice and nut supply chains, identify and collectively tackle human rights risks identified
- Ethical Engagement – to collectively develop tools and resources and discuss best practice for training and engaging buyers, directors, suppliers, and workers on human rights issues
- Warehousing and Logistics – a joint working group with Stronger Together and the Indirect Human Rights Forum to improve human rights due diligence in warehousing and logistics.
What We Do
FNET’s agenda is member-led, and members work primarily through working groups, as well as receiving technical support and coaching from the FNET Secretariat.
Ad hoc collaborations emerge periodically where members can either seek support advice from others in the Network or can collaborate on key areas of interest. Recent examples include webinars sponsored by the UK retailers to support health and safety during the Covid pandemic, the development of the FoodFarmHelp site providing guidance and advice on Covid to the food industry globally, webinars on changes to Indian labour laws and a series of webinars discussing the impact of immigration rule changes on labour exploitation in the UK.
Supplier & retailer support and best practice
Risk Assessment tool
Supplier engagement materials
How We Do It
FNET has a Board of Directors responsible for ensuring that FNET achieves its stated deliverables and objectives. The Board of Directors are made up of 3 retailers and 5 suppliers.
FNET’s activities are supported by a small team of human rights experts who coordinate the Network’s and workstream activities and provide one to one support to members.
The cloud picture shown here from September 2018 shows the three key words that sum up FNET for our members
Delivering benefit to FNET members is key to the Network’s success and the testimonials below indicate some of the benefits that members feel we have delivered in our early stages.
FNET brings significant value to our organisation. There is a strong collaborative spirit and a desire to find practical solutions to some of the key ethical challenges that we face today. Members of FNET, whether manufacturers or retailers seek to gain alignment so as to maximise our collective ability to improve our global supply chains.
FNET has enabled us to access relevant support and provided the opportunity to network and effectively collaborate on relevant ethical topics within the food industry.
We have found our membership of FNET very beneficial. It has enabled us to collaborate with suppliers and retailers on an area which we need assistance on understanding and managing risks. Our membership gives us updates on emerging human rights issues within the industry and access to useful resources.