Target’s Vice President of Corporate Responsibility announced a new Sustainable Seafood Policy that commits the company to collaborate with companies and NGOs to promote ethical working conditions and support for public policy that will ensure implementation of core labor standards. CBIS has been calling for worker protections for two years and was pleased the company took these steps in November 2018.
In a call with Target in February 2017, CBIS encouraged the company to release details of audits of its Thai seafood suppliers in light of egregious forced labor violations over the past 3 years, and share information about its participation in The Seafood Task Force, an influential, diverse coalition tackling human rights in Thailand, which Target joined at CBIS’ urging.
In October 2016, CBIS participated in a call with Target regarding Target’s new Responsible Sourcing and Sustainable Design 2020 goals. The company shared its key areas of focus: improving worker well-being, achieving net-positive manufacturing, and deriving key raw materials from ethical and sustainable sources. We have asked for additional detail on each of these areas of focus. The company made clear that it is committed to collaboration and transparency, including to the Seafood Supply Chain Task Force, a key area of interest for CBIS given our ongoing concerns regarding slave labor in the seafood supply chain in Thailand. The company is making headway to make sure that workers do not pay a fee for jobs, as is the case with unscrupulous labor brokers. In related news, we were pleased that Target is now having its fresh and frozen shrimp certified by Marine Bay Aquarium Project, and the company is also looking to certify tuna. The company also shared its recently published factory matrix that outlines the nearly 500 factories, by country, it is using to produce its goods. Shareholders welcome transparency of this kind since it can help to identify leading and lagging factories in terms of worker safety, environmental performance and human rights standards.
We are pleased to announce that Target joined the Shrimp Sustainable Supply Chain Task Force in September 2016, a longtime ask of CBIS. Key goals of the Task Force include: Creating a standard code of conduct model for Thai ports, brokers and vessels; conducting audits of vessels; and tracking and tracing systems from vessel to feed mill. The multi-stakeholder alliance includes European and American retailers, their suppliers, NGOs and the major Thai shrimp processors and feed companies. Members include Costco, Walmart, World Wildlife Fund and our own Thai Union. We believe Target’s advances can help to reduce reputational risk, protect at-risk workers, and ultimately make its seafood supply chain more resilient. We continue to urge Target to publicly report on its progress and to join additional programs that help migrant workers choose good employers, find safe work and living conditions, and avoid exploitative labor brokers. Target mentioned that it is now looking to take additional steps to trace its tuna supply chain.
In early 2016, Target hired a labor and human rights experts to be onsite in Bangkok to assess the seafood supply chain in Thailand. This is one of many steps Target has detailed to address human trafficking in the seafood supply chain in Thailand, including furthering knowledge of abuses in the shrimp supply chain through in-country meetings with the Thai government, the International Labor Organization, and key vendors; working with other retailers to communicate the need to address this issue with the Thai government; and implementing a process to trace the supply chain from ocean to table. Target audits its seafood processing facilities but does not currently make audit findings public.
After an investigation in January 2016 revealed that poor migrant workers and children were sold to factories in Thailand and forced to peel shrimp that ended up in global supply chains (Slave-peeled shrimp tied to major retailers, restaurants — 12/14/2015) CBIS contacted Target. Target is aware of the investigation and the need for even more productive multi-sector collaboration on this critical issue. As part of its traceability commitment, Target has been vigilant in evaluating its own supply from Southeast Asia and is working with a wide range of stakeholders (industry, NGOs, government, etc.) to address human rights violations. Target is currently assessing the opportunity to engage more formally with the Shrimp Sustainable Supply Chain Task Force – a group of retailers, manufacturers, government, and human rights organizations working to create procedures for ports, and to trace the seafood supply chain from vessel to feed mill – and its collaborative plan to achieve more oversight.