Fruit SA in ‘world first’ ethical standard

29 October 2012

Fruit South Africa has finalised an ethical standard and audit process for the industry that will ensure that South African fruit is produced in line with internationally accepted labour and environmental standards.

In a statement earlier this month, Fruit South Africa said the standard was aligned to South African law, was internationally recognised, and had the benefit promoting a single standard and audit to replace the numerous standards and audits with which producers must comply.

The umbrella body for SA’s fruit producers’ assocations said the new standard was “a world first with regards to enabling mutual recognition of audits among international and local retailers”.

Global Social Compliance Programme

In order to achieve this, Fruit SA engaged with the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP), an organisation which aims to harmonise ethical requirements and avoid duplication of audits while ensuring that global standards are adhered to.

Fruit SA used the GSCP reference code as the basis for the development of its own standard, and aligned this to South African law. The standard was then submitted to the GSCP “to undergo a process of equivalence validated by an independent international panel of experts”.

According to Fruit SA, the GSCP is supported by various global retailers, including Tesco, M&S, Walmart, Ahold, Migros, COOP Switzerland, Delhaise, Carrefour, and South African retailer Pick n Pay.

South Africa exports a large proportion of its fruit. According to Business Day, SA’s industry employs nearly half-million people, and sold its fruit to 70 countries in 2011, earning the country in the region of R12-billion.

Sustainability Initiative of South Africa

The Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (Siza) – incorporating Fruit SA’s ethical trade programme – will be the custodian of the new standard.

Fruit SA said that Siza was a “multi-stakeholder platform”, with membership open to producers, exporters and stakeholders across the supply chain, that could in time be expanded beyond the fruit sector to represent the broader agricultural industry.

“While the programme has been driven by the fruit industry, it is open to all agricultural industries in South Africa, and will look to work with the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) in the future in providing the framework for a harmonised environmental standard with the same international recognition afforded by the GSCP.”

Fruit SA stressed that Siza was “development-led rather than audit-led”, aiming to provide growers with the tools to be self-regulated.

“As a locally developed, managed and funded programme that is aligned to international requirements, the Siza programme is recognised as a world first of its kind.”

SAinfo reporter