Column Ceel Elemans: Embracing responsibility
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Column Ceel Elemans: Embracing responsi­bility

  • 08 April 2024
  • By: Ceel Elemans, ING Sector Banker Food

After years of work by the European Commission, the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) is almost a reality. Recently, the EU member states, following initial resistance, reached an agreement. The directive requires companies to pay greater attention to human rights and environmental issues in their production and supply chains.

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) already mandates large companies to report on working conditions and environmental issues in their supply chains. This European sustainability reporting directive applies to listed companies starting from the reporting year 2024. Larger companies that meet the CSRD criteria must comply before the reporting year 2025.

It's high time to focus on fair production chains and stand up for workers in local communities. A European approach is preferred to address abuses uniformly. Currently, however, only a third of the original companies fall under the agreement, specifically companies with more than 1,000 employees (previously 500) and a turnover of more than 450 million euros (previously 150 million). It would be far more effective if food companies took action themselves and assumed responsibility for fair production chains. This is especially true now that this ‘anti-indifference law’ has been watered down yet again.

Consumers demand transparency about the production of their food and the conditions under which it occurs. As well-being and inclusion gain more attention, it becomes even more crucial to take serious steps towards corporate social responsibility.

Food companies can no longer ignore issues like the exploitation of tomato pickers in Southern Italy, mistreatment on tea plantations in Kenya, or closer to home, serious working or housing conditions of migrant workers. For food companies and supermarkets, it’s time to show more of their social conscience by genuinely addressing human rights abuses in their production chains. This also applies to companies not covered by the CSDDD.

Ceel Elemans
ING Sector Banker Food

Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2024