Oxfam explains, 'The food industry currently rewards shareholder wealth over the work of millions.' Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, Aldi, and Lidl are among supermarkets that are “increasingly squeezing the price they pay their suppliers” leaving people trapped in poverty.
The analysis found that across 12 common food products, including tea, orange juice and bananas UK supermarkets receive almost ten times more of the checkout price than the small-scale farmers and workers who produce them. In a report, the charity says “millions” of people overseas producing food for sale on the UK market are therefore being trapped in poverty, with some facing “brutal” working conditions and others going hungry. The charity said it surveyed hundreds of small-scale farmers and workers in supermarket supply chains across five countries and found that many people were struggling to feed themselves and their families or to earn a “basic standard of living.” For example, grape workers in South Africa and seafood processors in Thailand it found over 90% said they hadn’t enough to eat.
While the British supermarkets' share of what consumers pay rose to nearly 53 percent in 2015 from 41 percent in 1996, the percentage pocketed by workers in their supply chains fell by a quarter to 5.7 percent over the same period
Oxfam claims that working conditions in prawn processing plants in Indonesia - which supply some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets - were subject to forced pregnancy tests and strictly controlled bathroom and water breaks. It said in one instance, Melati, an Indonesian factory worker, had to peel 600 prawns an hour - one every six seconds. Oxfam claims that when she couldn’t hit that target, she faced verbal abuse.
Matthew Spencer, Director of Policy for Oxfam GB said:
"Low wages, poor conditions and discrimination against women are sadly all too common ... for many of those who toil to produce our food," Peter McAllister, executive director of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), said in a statement.