Alko audits producers

The supply chain of Alko’s products is wide and very international. It continuously evolves with changing assortment and vintages. We audit the operations of the supply chain and working conditions at producers, as of 2016 also in primary production which means cultivation of grapes or e.g. sugar cane.

Which producers does Alko audit?

The supply chain of a beverage product is often long and complicated. The continuous changes in assortment increases the challenge of verifying responsible purchasing. Alko aims at verifying the production of large volume products originating from s.c. risk countries in our fixed assortment. We commission an audit especially if a producer is not participating in programs for ethical trade or production (e.g. ethically certified products), they do not have a valid social audit commissioned by another client, or Alko’s supplier or our own representative has not visited the production facility and farms thus seeing the quality of the operations.

Working conditions issues in general
  • providing a living wage and deficiencies in paying wages
  • overtime work during harvesting season
  • compensation for working overtime 
  • health and safety deficiencies: e.g. blocked emergency exits, faults with storing dangerous chemicals
  • the standards of accommodation and sanitary facilities 
  • the living conditions of migrant workers’ families, e.g. ensuring children’s access to school

Preparing for a social audit

We select annually among large volume products those whose production work conditions we want to audit. Especially if the raw material is fresh produce like grapes or berries the primary production is also audited. The assortment includes products whose entire production takes place in the same place, e.g. a vineyard, and the scope for the audit is very clear. However, this isn’t often the case for large volume products but e.g. the grapes can be sourced from dozens of different farms.  In these cases Auditor chooses a random, big enough sample of farms that become audited.

In addition to large sales volume, we also pick auditees on needs basis for instance following an incident that requires further actions or some reason to suspect social problems in a given geographical region or industry sector.

Follow-up of remediation actions

After the social audit the producers each create a remediation plan that contains actions, schedules and responsible persons, and it is followed up and reported to us in Alko by the related importer. Our objective is that in follow-up audits the improvements in working conditions can then be verified and documented.
Challenges of primary production audits
  • The auditing model that suits factory work needs adapting to agricultural environment. E.g. the requirement for working time recording in mobile outdoor work.
  • In a multi-language environment (migrant workers or many local languages) a professional 3rd party interpreter is always participating the audit.
  • The seasonal nature of agriculture. Audits are timed to the busiest harvest season to capture e.g. issues in using temporary labor.  This means e.g. that use of personal protective equipment for spraying pesticides during growing season cannot be verified.