European retailers put pressure on Thai prawn supplier

business June 14, 2014 00:00

By Agence France-Presse

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Leading European supermarket chains are putting pressure on a Thai prawn supplier accused by a British newspaper of using slave labour.

French-based Carrefour said Thursday it was suspending purchases from Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, after The Guardian accused the company of using slave labour and of inhumane working conditions.

The chain said it strongly condemned the reported conditions.

"As a precautionary measure, Carrefour has decided to immediately suspend its direct and indirect purchases from this company until more is known," it said in a statement.

Carrefour said it had carried out checks on the factory in 2013 which had not revealed anything out of the ordinary.

British-based Tesco, the world's third biggest supermarket group, said it would continue to buy from CP Foods, but would work with the company to improve working conditions.

"We regard slavery as completely unacceptable. We are working with CP Foods to ensure the supply chain is slavery-free, and are also working in partnership with the International Labour Organisation and Ethical Trading Initiative to achieve broader change across the Thai fishing industry," Tesco said in a statement.

A Tesco spokesman said CP Foods was not its only Thai supplier.

The Guardian alleged that CP buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned by slaves.

CP Foods also supplies the giant US chains Walmart and Costco.

The company believes that the chains should use their power to lobby the Thai government rather than turn their backs on the Thai fishing industry.