News - 20.12.2015 klo 09.08

Campaign for transparency in Lidl supply chains

Lidl is the only national grocery store chain in Finland that refuses to provide information on its subcontractors. The Finnish industry watchdog Finnwatch is campaigning to put pressure on Lidl to provide consumers with information on its supply chain.

The main Finnish grocery trade groups, NGO's, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a memorandum on August 15 2015 setting out the lines on how to follow the UN principles concerning the grocery trade supply chain.

Lidl joined the discussions initially but then pulled out and did not sign the memorandum.

Finnwatch has been requesting information on Lidl supply chains for years - all in vain. Lidl Finland says this is in line with the international policy of the group. It also pleads competitiveness as a reason for keeping supply chains secret.

The Finnish grocery trade is dominated by two groups, the cooperative S-Group with a market share of 45.7 per cent in 2014 and the privately owned K-Group which has a 33.1 per cent share of the market.

Lidl has been growing quickly in Finland and altogether its 147 stores has cornered 9.2 per cent of the market.

In November Finnwatch started a Transparent Lidl campaign designed to increase information on Lidl supply chains. It asks citizens to upload a photo of each of the Lidl stores in Finland on the campaign web page.

These images will be collected as part of a petition that will be delivered to Lidl in Finland at the beginning of 2016.

”Lidl is the only nationwide grocery trade chain that does not provide information on its supply chain”, says Finnwatch Executive Director Sonja Vartiala. ”We want to send a message to the head office of Lidl that this kind of secrecy does not go down well in Finland.”

Vartiala writes in her column for the Finnish Metalworker's Union magazine Ahjo that Finnwatch have received a lot of praise for the campaign, but also some angry e-mails.The latter see Lidl as a champion underdog in the Finnish grocery trade, struggling against the big cooperative S-Group and the private K-Group giants.

More competition certainly brings benefits to consumers, Vartiala writes. But there is another side to the coin also. Lidl is one of the the biggest retail grocery outlets in the world. Last year its turnover was seven times more than the entire K-Group.

”We do not know how Lidl’s buying policy affects the daily life of workers in developing countries, but we will find out soon enough when it gives information of its supply chain”, Vartiala promises.

Lidl is being asked for the same transparency as everyone else. Finnwatch have made several reports on how companies doing business in Finland are operating in developing countries.

Finnwatch is a non-governmental organisation focused on global corporate responsibility. A number of trade unions are members through the Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland SASK and also support its work directly.

Written by: Heikki Jokinen