Sainsbury’s: Embedding Sustainability within the Supermarket Supply Chain
The multiple food retail sector has long been confronted with sustainability issues, being at the front end of the consumer interface and in a position to have a wide magnifier effect through its supply chains. From standards such as the Temporary Labour Working Group, which led to the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004, to the British Retail Consortium’s global standards on technical issues such as food safety, storage, distribution and packaging and the Supermarket Code of Conduct, retailers are subject to substantial reputational risks if they or their suppliers are seen to be wanting in their response to contemporary challenges. Some argue that ‘food retailers are by far the most far-reaching organizations in our commercial society’ (Sainsbury’s chief executive). With a market worth UK£133.3 billion,1 groceries are the third largest area of expenditure in the UK behind housing and transport. Unsurprisingly, then, the supermarket retail sector is an extremely competitive market.