Princes, one of the leading Italian food groups on the international markets, announced end of January a significant new step in efforts to improve ethical standards in its supply chain in Italy.
In 2018, PIA (Princes Industrie Alimentari) is committed to reaching a level of 100% of its raw materials provided by suppliers with the "Global GAP GRASP" or "SA8000" certification: in 2017, 81% of the supplier-growers for its Foggia plant (87% of delivered tonnage) had obtained this certification, which is the main international quality standard guaranteeing compliance with "best agricultural practices" for the production farms and the implementation of good standards for the treatment of the workforce in terms of health, safety and well-being, as well as contracts, salaries and workers' representation rights.
Each year, Princes processes 300 000 tonnes of raw tomatoes at its Foggia plant, where the company manufactures various products under its own brand name as well as for clients in the retail sector, which are then marketed and distributed throughout Europe. Princes, which is owned by the Mitsubishi Corporation, is the main distributor of tomato products in the United Kingdom, and supplies products to France and Germany, under brand names like Napolina.
Gianmarco Laviola, the new CEO of PIA, recently declared: "We have decided to actively participate in promoting and consolidating a greater social sustainability within the tomato industry of our country and, at the European level, we invite all industry operators to become better acquainted with the issues linked to employment within the Italian agricultural sector."
"The data that we presented regarding certifications [GAP and GRASP] are the results of consolidated skills acquired in recent years thanks to activities such as field inspections, support for growers by providing decentralized training and the promotion of awareness-raising events concerning workforce ethics at our Foggia plant, with the support of many of our clients and organizations like the Ethical Trading Initiative. We are satisfied with the progress that has been accomplished, [...] and we will continue to develop our commitment in this area as far as we possibly can."
Gianmarco Laviola was designated as the new head of the Group last December. Beyond the operational aspects, he will intensify PIA's work alongside local farmers, both commercially and in terms of ethical compliance, to ensure a sustainable future in the long term for the entire sector.
During January, the company was cited in an inquiry implicating one of its suppliers, who was suspected of exploiting illegal foreign workers. According to British daily "The Guardian", other Italian companies that were also mentioned announced that they "immediately stopped [their] relationship with [this supplier] after allegations were made in the Guardian and several Italian newspapers" and they decided to "take legal action against its former supplier 'to protect [their] interests''”. Others announced that they “would continue to foster a close relationship with all its suppliers and underlined both its commitment to fight “any exploitation of workers” and its push to mechanize tomato harvesting, thus reducing reliance on human labor."
Sources: foggiatoday.it, The Guardian, statoquotidiano.it, other