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Fish sale section in a Carrefour supermarket. (Photo Credit: Carrefour)

Carrefour suspends prawn orders from CP Foods

EUROPEAN UNION
Friday, June 13, 2014, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

Carrefour has decided to suspend its direct or indirect purchases from Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods) due to reports of likely connections with slave labour. The retailer explained this is a precautionary measure taken "until the issue is clarified."

The French retailer's decision is based on journalistic research carried out by The Guardian newspaper, which showed that there was slave labour in the prawn supply chain in Thailand.

Carrefour sources explained that, as it has done regularly, a social audit of the company's processing plant was carried out in July 2013, and it had revealed nothing abnormal at that time.

The supermarket voiced its strong condemnation of the fact that “large numbers of men have been bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns sold in leading supermarkets around the world” and announced it is going to audit the complex chain.

Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) welcomed the announcement by the retail giant and informed that as a further step Belgian supermarket chain Colruyt would be returning all remaining stocks of CP Foods products.

The entity considered these are positive measures in the right direction and warned that one Thai company – even one as large as CP – should not be made “a scapegoat for a Thai seafood industry whose economic model is predicated on the type of abuse and exploitation exposed by the Guardian.”

“Carrefour’s announcement is welcome news and shows that European retailers are finally waking up to the severity of the abuse in Thailand’s seafood industry," pointed out Steve Trent, EJF Executive Director.

And he added: “However, CP is just one part of a problem that plagues the entire sector. All companies sourcing seafood from Thailand should be under no illusions that they are selling products tainted by slavery”

The NGO's Executive Director considers this decision should urge all companies selling Thai seafood to take similar action and carry out rigorous, independent audits of their entire supply chain, no matter who their suppliers are.

Besides, he encouraged consumers to take the opportunity to demand their retailers take strong and meaningful action to eradicate slavery from their supply chains.

Whereas EJF believes the Thai government should work with industry to take steps to conclusively address this issue, CP Foods explained that the Thai fisheries department continues to deny that unregistered boats are a problem.

"We can do nothing and witness these social and environmental issues destroy the seas around Thailand, or we can help drive improvement plans, a CPF spokesperson stated while explaining the firm’s plans to use alternative proteins in its feed so that it can eliminate Thai fishmeal by 2021 if necessary.
 

Related articles:

CPF defends itself from journalistic accusations
Journalistic research reveals 'globalised slavery' in prawn sector


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