2015 Sustainability Report

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It is Chicken of the Sea's goal to not only improve our own internal processes but to also improve the impacts made by our suppliers. Through our Supplier Code of Conduct, Supplier Survey and third-party auditing of our key suppliers, we are working to reduce our supply chain's social and environmental impacts to help produce more responsible goods for our customers. We take a comprehensive approach to managing our supply chain's sustainability impacts, with a focus on: 

  • Policies which clearly outline our expectations
  • Programs such as training, engagement and collaboration
  • Performance including self-assessments, third-party audits and corrective action reports
Supplier Code of Conduct

We are committed to pushing environmental and social responsibility back through the supply chain. To do that, we are focusing first on setting clear expectations with suppliers and backing that up with systems to identify and remediate concerns. Our Supplier Code of Conduct explicitly lays out our expectations on social and environmental issues for suppliers. The Code, which applies to all of our first-tier suppliers, covers topics including: wages and overtime, working conditions, health and safety, environmental responsibility, emergency preparedness and response, and ethics and privacy. Read our Supplier Code of Conduct.
Preventing Slavery and Human Trafficking in Our Supply Chain

The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act requires certain companies in California to publicly disclose their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their direct supply chain for goods offered for sale. We are committed to working closely with our suppliers and others in the industry to help raise awareness and also take appropriate steps to eradicate slavery and human trafficking. We are constantly seeking to improve our sourcing practices and are currently undertaking major sustainability projects with independent consultants and experts in order to improve the entire product supply chain and reduce our overall impact on the environment and society.
Supplier Sustainability Engagement Pays Off

In 2013, we sold 615,000 feet of obsolete shrink film to a former supplier. They got a great deal on a product they could use, and we were able to avoid paying for waste disposal fees.
Supplier Survey

We realized that we needed to get a better understanding of how our suppliers currently approach environmental, social and governance issues, so in 2012 we created our first-ever supplier sustainability survey. The survey was sent out to our Tier One Suppliers and asked questions about energy, waste and water management, health and safety, disclosure and workforce profile.

In 2015, we sent out the survey to our Tier One suppliers again. We received a 50 percent response rate, similar to our 2012 response rate. Half of the responses were from suppliers who took the survey in both 2012 and 2015 and half took the survey for the first time. Because of this, it is difficult for us to make assertions on broad trends. However, because the data was very similar in each survey, despite being from different suppliers, we are now more confident that the results are accurate and can better confirm what our suppliers see as their major sustainability challenges and opportunities. For example:

  • Energy and Emissions: In 2015, 60 percent of our suppliers reported tracking their energy consumption, while less than half of them have green house gas (GHG) emission reduction goals, a slight reduction in both areas from 2012.
  • Air and Water: The 2015 survey mirrored 2012 data, confirming that across the board, approximately 2/3 of the suppliers test for hazardous air pollutants. In addition, roughly 75 percent of suppliers have programs in place to reduce and reuse water. 
  • Waste: The 2015 survey showed a slightly higher use of external waste contractors (90 percent in 2015, versus 80 percent in 2012), but fewer still (34 percent in 2015 versus 55 percent in 2012) conduct regular audits of those contractors
  • Audits: In both the 2012 and 2015 survey, 80 percent of our suppliers report conducting regular environmental management audits of their facilities. Of those suppliers who participate in regular audits, 85 percent of them are engaged in environmental remediation as a result of audits.
We plan to issue this survey every three years, and the next one will be completed in 2018.
Spotlight on Thailand

In June 2014, Thailand was moved to "Tier III" status on the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, reflecting the country's lack of progress on human rights in both industry and the global sex trade. Our parent company, Thai Union, is headquartered in Thailand and is at the forefront of efforts to improve the situation in Thailand by advocating for better government action and oversight and by implementing best practices within its considerable facilities and wide-spread supply chain. In 2016, Thailand was moved back to Tier II status, reflecting the progress the country has made in fighting human trafficking and slavery. Read Thai Union's response to the 2016 TIP Report.

Vendor Evaluations, Audits and Verification

We have a robust vendor evaluation, auditing and verification process that applies to all suppliers that provide input on our product and its packaging. The evaluation looks at issues of quality, capacity, compliance and good business practices. 

In 2013, we arranged for independent audits of several key suppliers to review social and environmental sustainability policies, practices and performance. Results from these audits have helped us to identify key risks and opportunities to improve sustainability and protect labor rights across our supplier base. It also led to our commitment to audit 90 percent of our seafood procurement spend on a 3-year rolling basis by 2020. 

In 2015, we hit our 2020 goal early, with 91 percent of our seafood supplier base audited within the last three years. In 2016, we will also begin to disclose selected results of our audits, including key insights about the major sustainability risks in our supply chain and progress towards minimizing those risks.
Monitoring and Enforcement

Alongside our framework for supplier conduct comes our effort to enforce that commitment. Not only do we expect that our suppliers will follow our guidelines, we also vet and monitor our supply chain to assess supplier practices. 

As we continue to deploy third-party sustainability audits at our key supplier facilities, we receive valuable information about strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement in the supply chain. When a problem appears, our first choice is to work with the supplier to determine an appropriate corrective action. If we are unable to come to an acceptable resolution, we reserve the right to terminate our relationship with suppliers who fail to uphold our social, environmental and ethical standards.

Our evaluation process looks at issues of quality, capacity, compliance and good business practices. As we develop and implement labor and human rights audits at existing suppliers, we expect that learning to also carry over into new vendor evaluation.
Capacity Building and Training

In developing and implementing a supplier sustainability program we have found that, sometimes, audits aren't enough to keep suppliers on track with our sustainability expectations. Our initial audits found that suppliers were very willing to participate in the audit process, but often lacked the understanding and capacity to resolve issues once they were identified. As a result, problems lingered longer than they should have.

In 2014, we decided to address this gap and expanded our supplier sustainability program. We moved from an "audit only" approach to a "performance improvement plan (PIP)" approach.  Instead of receiving an audit every three years, we also provide funding for a team of supply chain sustainability experts to support the facility for a full year. 

In the first year of our PIP strategy, suppliers received onsite and virtual help in understanding local laws and our expectations, developing policies and document management systems, developing processes for employee grievances, and addressing wage and benefit issues. We are happy to report that 100 percent of the participating suppliers made demonstrable progress towards resolving the sustainability issues identified during the initial audits. We saw similar improvement in 2015, confirming that the move to a performance-improvement focus was the right decision.

Of course, simply asking our suppliers to improve their sustainability efforts is not enough. We are also putting emphasis on training our internal procurement team to better spot potential sustainability problems, find the root cause of issues and work effectively with the supplier to resolve them.

In 2012, all executives and procurement staff completed training on how to spot human trafficking in the supply chain. This course, developed and delivered by the University of Delaware, was designed specifically to respond to concerns raised by the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and is designed to help procurement professionals:

  • Be aware of human trafficking and slavery in supply chains
  • Identify human trafficking and slavery risks in company supply chains
  • Support prevention and mitigation efforts when human trafficking and slavery is suspected
In 2014, we conducted an on-site, 2-day supply chain sustainability workshop for executives and procurement staff. Experts provided insight into labor issues common in seafood supply chains, including human trafficking, forced labor, migrant labor, health and safety concerns, inadequate wages and overtime and inappropriate working conditions. We used supplier audit results from previous Chicken of the Sea suppliers to better understand what kind of labor risks are found in our supply chain, and to identify options to resolve problems and prevent them from happening in the future.

We expect additional training and engagement with our procurement team and executives to take place in 2016, with an expanded focus on sustainability risk identification and mitigation across the entire Thai Union supply chain.

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