Paul Williams of Princes

Our work to help tackle modern slavery

At Princes we are incredibly proud of the progress we have made in tackling modern slavery and human trafficking.

With an estimated 40 million people known to be victims of modern slavery in 2020, it is a human rights issue about which no industry or sector can be complacent or considered immune from.

With a global supply chain, Princes has a very particular responsibility to establish transparent supply chains in a committed effort to verify and validate all our claims.

To help us, we work closely with Provenance, a leading independent supply chain transparency partner, so our customers can get the trust and reassurance they expect from our brands.

But of course, by its very nature, modern slavery is a very complex area for which there is no simple fix.

You might have read that in 2021, Princes was recognised by Oxfam and presented with the Fighting Inequality Award in Italy and I wanted to take this opportunity to share in more detail the ongoing work that led to that particular award.

We acquired our factory, Princes Industrie Alimentari (PIA), in 2012. Set in the heart of Italy’s tomato region, it is the home of the Princes brand Napolina, the UK’s leading canned tomato brand.

Here we produce around 250 million tomato products annually, and all the produce comes from local farms with independent ethical accreditation.

What you might not know is that, historically, there has been a particular issue with modern slavery and human trafficking in this part of Italy.

Many victims are middle aged African men who have crossed the Mediterranean to find work in order to provide for their families back home.

Recognising that we would need to tackle the problem of illegal labour in Italian agriculture in a number of different ways we:

  • Have been holding annual ethical forums and training in Italy since 2013 to build awareness amongst our supply base and help stamp out human rights abuses in Italy.
  • Work with a programme called Lavoro Senza Frontiere (Work Without Borders), which was established in partnership with the charity group Caritas in 2018 to help to find roles for victims of modern slavery. We have already helped to transform the lives of nine people since we started the scheme, giving them full-time work, job security and stability at our factory.
  • In 2019, we signed a partnership agreement with the leading Italian agricultural union Coldiretti, which provides our tomato growers with long term contracts and a fair and profitable return to growers. The agreement encourages growers to implement environmental improvements and commit to participating in a Blockchain programme.
  • Process only tomatoes from farms with Global GAP/GRASP accreditation or SA8000 certification for social compliance.
  • We look at our suppliers’ contracts of employment and ask them whether they have an active trade union or a worker committee.
  • We share data on gender and temporary or agency workers because we think it is important to champion gender equality and to map vulnerable workers within our supply chain.
  • To ensure supply chain transparency, we have also published our own detailed supply chain map. It contains details of all our Tier 1 (direct) suppliers for packaging and ingredients as well as finished goods. Our major customers tell us we are leading the way in this area and they understand the importance of working together to build trust and reassurance for shoppers and consumers.

Recognising and welcoming the power of customer and consumer expectations when it comes to ethical standards and ingredient providence, we are proud to be able to include a QR code on all our Napolina canned tomatoes.

The millions of families who enjoy our products can trace the journey of the tinned tomatoes from its farming co-operative to the supermarket shelf.

Being transparent is just the start of the conversation about embedding human rights strategies.

Princes is a place where every one of us matters and can make a difference. We are proud to be an inclusive, diverse and innovative business.

By Paul Williams, Group Head of Ethical Trading & Human Rights