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Mars and Nestlé taking steps to clean up pet food supply chains after complains of human rights abuses and illegal fishing

Mars and Nestlé are taking steps to clean up pet food supply chains putting additional pressure on suppliers to eliminate any outstanding risks of human rights abuses and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The companies have decided to take steps to clean up their pet food supply especially after NGOs like Greenpeace made intensive campaigns underlining the human rights abuses and illegal fishing activities of some of their suppliers. Thai Union came under the attention of Greenpeace for transshipment, a process through which companies move fish from one vessel to another, enabling them to remain at sea for extended periods of time to plunder the oceans, dodge regulations, and keep fishers as a captive workforce.

Since the revelations, Nestlé has committed to a full ban on transshipment at sea in its supply chains, while Mars has committed to suspend the use of transshipped products in their supply chains if its seafood suppliers cannot adequately address the human rights and illegal fishing issues associated with the practice in the coming weeks. The companies also face global pressures coming from pet owners, who are becaming much more interested in where their pets’ food comes form.

Greenpeace even conducted a campaign aimed specifically to better inform pet owners and it paid off.

“Pet owners and activists have demanded that companies eliminate human rights abuses from their pet food supply chains. This move toward stopping out of control transshipment at sea means we’re finally seeing results,” said Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaigner Graham Forbes.

The fact that Nestlé and Mars decided to address this issue is a big win as the two companies are the largest producers of pet food. NGO’s are confident that this will ensure that suppliers will pay closer attention to responsible sourcing of seafood.

“Over the past several years, Nestlé and Greenpeace have worked together to strengthen Nestlé’s policies governing the procurement and responsible sourcing of seafood,” said Nestlé Purina PetCare Head of Sustainability Jack Scott. “In light of Greenpeace’s research findings, Nestlé has committed to a ban on all transshipment at sea.”

“Mars recognises the risks of transshipment at sea. We want to see human rights respected and the environment protected in our seafood supply chains” said Isabelle Aelvoet, Global Sustainability Director, Mars Petcare. “The current problems associated with transshipment are serious and demand urgent attention. We are committed to working with our suppliers to remedy these problems, but if we cannot resolve these issues to our satisfaction quickly, we will seek to end the use of transshipped products in our supply chains until these serious problems are fixed.”

Human rights abuses were highlighted in a New York Times piece back in 2015 while the problems generated by transshipment were revealed in the 2016 study on commercial fishing, made public at the beginning of 2017. To mark their win, Greenpeace even released a congratulatory video featuring cats.

Sylvia Jacob