The five largest supermarkets in the Netherlands still score below par when it comes to human rights in the production of the range. Oxfam Novib concludes this on Tuesday in an annual survey. There is too little transparency and not enough is being done to combat exploitation.

"We investigated whether supermarkets are transparent and take responsibility for how labor rights are respected in developing countries, how small-scale farmers can be prosperous and the women who produce our food are treated fairly," said the civil society.

It is striking that price fighter Lidl still scores best in the list with Jumbo, Albert Heijn (AH), Aldi and PLUS. The former chain receives a rating of 32 percent, while the others successively achieve 23, 19, 18 and 9 percent. Every chain has improved, although that is only a few percent with PLUS and AH.

"There is still a lot of work to be done before exploitation is no longer on the shelves." Charlotte Vollaard, Oxfam Novib

Action plan needed for a pass

The first step is to be transparent and investigate abuses. Subsequently, something can be done about this with policy, explains human rights expert Charlotte Vollaard of Oxfam. "It is time for Dutch supermarkets to accelerate this process."

Indeed, so far mainly small steps have been taken. Albert Heijn, for example, has started publishing a world map with all suppliers on it, and Lidl promises to publish a survey three times a year about the risks within a product group. "Only when supermarkets also publish a plan of action and start implementing their commitments in a transparent manner, can they achieve a sufficient mark," says Vollaard.

'Ranking shows that legislation is needed'

"There is still a lot of work to be done before exploitation is no longer on the shelves," says Vollaard. "We understand that everything cannot be examined in one go, but it is important that supermarkets pursue an overarching policy and take their responsibility."

According to Oxfam, the government can also play a crucial role in making the supermarket range fairer. Legislation ensures that human rights policy is no longer without obligation. Vollaard: "More is needed than voluntary covenants. Our rankings show that otherwise improvement is very slow."