Grocery trade’s round table discussed the respect of human rights in purchasing

No company can change the world alone but cooperation of all operators – states, NGOs and the entire supply chain – is needed. Grocery retail companies, NGOs and authorities who met at the round table reached a common view on how the UN principles shall be implemented in the purchasing chains of the grocery trade.

Kesko and a number of other grocery retailers, NGOs and authorities met to discuss six times between November 2014 and June 2015. The subject of the round table discussions was how to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights across the purchasing chains of the grocery trade.

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

The UN Principles – ’Ruggie principles’ – were approved globally in 2011. They are founded on three pillars:

• the state duty to protect human rights and promote their implementation
• the corporate responsibility to respect human rights
• access to legal protection for victims of human rights abuse.

Read the UN principles in full at

Grocery trade as a frontrunner

As a result of the discussions between businesses, NGOs and authorities, a common view was reached, the purpose of which is to provide additional tools for the grocery trade for the practical implementation of the due diligence process agreed in the UN across purchasing chains.

The implementation of due diligence is a continuing process, which businesses use to identify and prevent their negative impacts on human rights and define how to intervene.

“The grocery retailers and NGOs who participated in negotiations conducted in cooperation by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have carried out exemplary practical cooperation and they are frontrunners in putting the UN principles into practice,” says Commercial Counsellor Kent Wilska from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Kesko assesses human rights related impact

The round table working group agreed that the assessment of human rights risks related to business operations shall be part of the purchasing process. In addition to the human rights risks at the manufacturing phase of the products, it shall also include those related to the production of key ingredients.

In its operations, Kesko has long paid special attention to human rights issues and working conditions across its sourcing chain.

Kesko’s principle is to cooperate in high-risk countries only with suppliers which are included in social responsibility auditing, or start the process at the beginning of the cooperation. International assessment systems, mainly BSCI auditing and SA8000 certification, are used for assessing suppliers in high-risk countries. Factory audits are part of compliance with UN due diligence criteria.

In 2014, Kesko initiated a human rights impact assessment that covers Kesko employees and the K-Group’s customers in addition to the sourcing chain.

“In our assessment work, we go through the human rights impact and risks of our operations, including the measures and indicators. We aim to publish our human rights commitment on our website by the end of this year. We are building our practices so as to take the respect for human rights into account in all operations of Kesko. We also require that our business partners respect all internationally recognised human rights,” says Matti Kalervo, Kesko's Vice President for Corporate Responsibility

Read more at:
Release by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (in Finnish)
Common view document (in Finnish)
Kesko’s Annual Report


To top