Last year in September, in collaboration with Free2Work, we launched a call on snack food company Diamond Foods concerning the need for the company to address the risk of child labour in the supply chain of cashew nuts sold under their Emerald Nuts brand. Supporters were asked to join the campaign and sign our petition on www.fairfood.org/wakeup. The remarkable support of nearly 17,000 consumers who took part in the campaign and signed their names was clearly heard because now we have made a significant step forward with the company.
Thanks to your powerful comments, such as “transparency is, these days, critical to integrity, yours and mine” and “child labor and forced labor are never acceptable, whether a company engages in these practices directly or indirectly through their vendors. You are responsible for ensuring that your supply chain adheres to fair labor practices, and your customers deserve transparency from you on this subject,” your voices were heard by Diamond Foods.
Recently, Fairfood International met with Diamond Foods to present the petition signatures from our Wake Up! Emerald Nuts campaign. We addressed the cover letter (PDF link) to Diamond Foods’ new acting CEO, Mr. Rick Wolford, who has stepped in as the company undergoes a period of significant transition, following recent developments related to accounting troubles with their walnut growers in the United States.
In January of this year, Diamond Foods became one of the first companies to issue a disclosure in compliance with the new California Supply Chain Transparency law (SB 657), shining a ray of hope over the company. Now, Diamond Foods appears to have taken another step forward.
During our meeting with Diamond Foods, we discussed child labour concerns and its recent supply chain transparency disclosure. As stated in their disclosure, Diamond Foods is in the process of implementing “an annual certification process for suppliers showing their compliance with all applicable laws preventing the employment or benefit from child or forced labor.”
A supplier code of conduct is a necessary element for companies to tackle issues such as child and forced labour in their supply chain. Without a supplier code of conduct, policies which safeguard against issues such as these cannot be properly monitored and enforced.
Diamond Foods committed that they will transparently enact a supplier code of conduct incorporating the ILO Conventions on child labour as minimum standards, representing a significant first step in the fight against child labour. Diamond Foods also expressed interest in engaging with its stakeholders and industry leaders to ensure the implementation of a credible certification system to protect against such concerns throughout its global supply chain.
We at Fairfood International will continue our dialogue with Diamond Foods throughout this process, with a newfound hope for the positive changes that the company can make.
Taking responsibility to ensure ethical treatment throughout the supply chain just makes good business sense. We hope that Diamond Foods can recognize this period of transition as a sincere opportunity to enact meaningful and sustainable change, propelling the company away from the dark and into the sunshine.