Behind the Barcode: Oxfam’s Fourth Supermarket Scorecard

Behind the Barcode: Oxfam’s Fourth Supermarket Scorecard was a campaign launched in 2018. The goal was to accurately score the major supermarket chains on how well they were addressing human rights in their supply chains.

Responsible sourcing is one of the key pillars here at STAR Index. Without it, you simply cannot achieve a sustainable business practice. Oxfam’s annual scorecard is also an effective tool for identifying the brands that are leading the sustainability brigade.

Consumer confidence in supermarkets​

The modern consumer is aware of responsible sourcing and will make more sustainable choices using the money in their wallet. Therefore, scoring highly on Oxfam’s scorecard is in a supermarket’s vested interest.


For example, supermarkets like Tesco and Lidl can celebrate their higher scores through their marketing and expect to see an increase in consumer confidence as a result of the campaign.

Supermarkets are heading in the right direction

While the progress since 2018 has been encouraging, the scorecard’s message was loud and clear: there is still work to do. 

The challenge is to encourage supermarkets to pass more money on to their suppliers. In the past, Oxfam noticed the squeeze major supermarkets were putting on their suppliers to increase their margins. This usually has a negative impact on the poorer and more vulnerable people in the supply chain.

Market competition ensures that supermarkets must continue to offer the highest value for the lowest price. But then they have to balance this with a healthy profit margin and a responsible, sustainable supply chain. No easy task.

A need for greater transparency

Prior to the campaign’s launch in 2018, it wasn’t common practice for supermarkets to list their suppliers. Nowadays, supply chain mapping has become the norm.

Many of the supermarkets on the 2022 scorecard listed their first tier suppliers. Lidl and Jumbo are leading the pack with transparency and went as far as publishing details for their high-risk suppliers across all three tiers.

For supermarkets to increase their scoring, they need to address the concept of broader scoping. This means looking into their scope 1,2 and 3 supplier data in closer detail. This is the most effective way to measure the direct and indirect risks to human rights in their supply chain. It’s from here improvement can begin.

Responsible buying power

Supermarkets have incredible leverage through their buying power. And there are many intricacies within their common buying practices that could negatively impact the efforts of responsible sourcing. 

Whether it be last minute amendments to orders or aggressive negotiations around price, all of this can lead to negative impacts further down their supply chains.   

Numbers play a key role in responsible sourcing. If the money doesn’t make sense then it’s difficult to expect any real progress. Oxfam’s report showed some encouraging examples of how the higher scoring supermarkets are making improvements. 

Tesco successfully worked a living wage commitment via its buying practice to plug wage gaps within its banana supply chain. This made a huge improvement because bananas are one of the biggest selling food products in most supermarkets.

Visibility: seen and heard

STAR Index is a big believer in the concept of visibility. As we often say “without visibility there is no accountability.”

Supermarkets need to engage more with the people in their supply chain. The workers and the small-scale farmers must be visible and represented in negotiations.

Visibility and recognition gives people a voice that will be included in matters concerning: working conditions, wages and more. Actions like these will encourage positive change and move a supermarket’s scorecard ranking in the right direction.

STAR Index appreciates the food industry’s need for the right tools to accurately score, report on and improve its supply chain sourcing. That’s why we’ve created a cost-effective, one-stop software platform to help your business become more sustainable. 

STAR Specialists

Rick Sanderson

Head of Partnerships

Jamie Jarczewski

Senior ESG Lead

jamie bw

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