Supply chain the key to Modern Slavery Act

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Food manufacturers should review supply chain traceability for the Modern Slavery Act
Food manufacturers should review supply chain traceability for the Modern Slavery Act

Related tags Management

Food manufacturers were advised to review their supply chain traceability before the first report deadline under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into force last week (September 30).

Risk management firm Aon said the first step to making sure manufacturers don’t accept any products “adulterated”​ by the influence of modern slavery, is to carry out supply chain traceability audits.

The Modern Slavery Act came into effect in October 2015, and aimed to ensure slavery and human trafficking are removed from the supply chains.

Businesses with annual turnover exceeding £36M, whose most recent financial year ended on March 31 2016, were the first to report under the act last week.

‘Adulterated by the influence of modern slavery’

Aon md Grant Foster said: “The government is asking for businesses to refocus their procurement efforts and not accept any products or services which may have been ‘adulterated’ by the influence of modern slavery or human trafficking anywhere along the supply chain.

“At its heart, the Modern Slavery Act represents a rallying call for any UK business over a certain size, particularly those with a complex supply chain, to show that they take this risk seriously.”

Foster said the most sensible first step for manufacturers is to assess supply chain traceability.

“You need to look at where there is money and opportunity. Traceability audits focus on ‘following the money’ and identifying where the most money could be made by adulterating a product.

‘Find themselves exposed’

“Businesses with supply chains that stretch across the globe could find themselves exposed.”

He added that food manufacturers may find it difficult to fully assess their risk of purchasing adulterated goods.

“Of course, the food manufacturing industry buys large volumes of raw ingredients on the open market and frequently uses wholesale networks which make full transparency difficult. This will undoubtedly push the risk along the supply chain.”

Meanwhile, Nestlé admitted “unacceptable practices”​ in its seafood supply chain in Thailand last year. It subsequently launched an action plan to remedy the practices.

Modern Slavery Act 2015

  • First report due September 30 (for companies whose most recent financial year ended March 31)
  • Companies with annual turnover more than £36M to report
  • Risk management firm Aon recommended supply chain traceability audit

Related topics Legal Supply Chain

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