Procurement guidelines: Standards Plus

Shopping at Migros comes with the confidence that every  product in the basket was made with respect for human beings, animals and the environment. In 2009, Migros again helped define the international minimum standards that make this possible.

Some 40,000 different items can be found on Migros shelves, many of them sourced from abroad. To ensure that all these products meet the requirements in terms of quality and manufacturing conditions, Migros insists that its business partners comply with internationally recognised standards.

Standards in agricultural production

For example, any foreign supplier of fruit, vegetables and potatoes must submit proof of GLOBALGAP (GAP: Good Agricultural Practice) certification. GLOBALGAP ensures that producers worldwide comply with uniform standards in food safety, production methods, industrial safety and environmental protection.

For several years now, Migros has been expecting Swiss farmers and suppliers to follow SwissGAP, a modified Swiss version of GLOBALGAP. By year-end 2010, any business supplying Migros must meet this standard.

Food safety

All suppliers of processed foods are required to provide proof of certification according to a standard recognised by the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative). These standards certify that a given supplier has implemented the measures required for safe food production.

Minimum social standards

As long ago as 1997 , to guarantee that products were made in dignified working conditions, Migros drew up a code of conduct requiring its business partners to meet minimum social standards. These rules were later adopted into the BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) standard which today is followed by more than 420 companies worldwide.

Not only must business partners commit in writing to complying with the standards, they are also subjected to audits performed by independent firms at regular intervals. In the year under review, for example, more than 120 Migros suppliers were audited.

The standards keep evolving, and Migros is among those actively driving the process. In 2006, it joined forces with the world's top four retailers and other large companies in a bid to bundle and align the individual initiatives and standards of various organisations. As part of the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP), these retailers aim to leverage their market position for the benefit of better compliance with social and ethical guidelines in the production regions.

Having undertaken to meet BSCI standards, Migros has taken its commitment to responsible labour practices to a new level: since 2009, it has been participating in an apparel-industry project piloted by the ILO (International Labour Organisation). Better Work is a country-level programme actively involving all relevant stakeholders and focusing on training and continuous professional development.

Environmentally and socially responsible production

Another project launched by Migros in 2009 is designed to improve the environmental impact of cotton cultivation. As a founding member of the Better Cotton Initiative, Migros works with the WWF and firms like Adidas, Gap and Ikea to promote more sustainable cotton. The initiative is supported by the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and seeks to reduce, across the board, the amount of irrigation and pesticides used in growing cotton.

Alongside its significant role in standards work, Migros as a member of numerous working groups has been steadily pushing for the improvement of production conditions. In the past year, for example, Migros was an active participant in RSPO meetings on sourcing palm oil from sustainable production.

In 2009 Migros began switching its entire standard coffee assortment to the Utz Certified label, continuing only the Max Havelaar, M-Budget and Séléction lines and regional products. The Utz Certified label stands for ecologically and socially sustainable coffee. It also allows consumers to trace the source of their coffee online.

Rolled out in 1996, the Eco label was upgraded to the general standard in 2009. Garments are labelled Eco if no environmentally harmful, skin-irritating and allergenic substances were used at any stage of their production – from the spinning, weaving, dyeing and printing through to the ready-to-wear product - and resources were conserved.