Knowledge for better food systems

Research briefing: Super market failure

This research briefing from UK charity Sustain assesses which of the UK’s 13 largest supermarket chains pays employees a Living Wage, the ratio between the salaries of their lowest and highest paid workers, as well as their approach to grocery market regulation.

The report finds that few UK supermarkets are paying a Living Wage, with only Lidl having a public commitment to paying its employees (although not contractors) at least the real Living Wage. Aldi reported paying direct employees the real Living Wage, while Tesco, Morrison’s and Marks & Spencer reported paying a rate just below this.

Furthermore, the pay gaps between the lowest and highest paid workers are large and increasing except in supermarkets operating under cooperative ownership (Coop and Waitrose).

The report also presents policy recommendations, including for stronger anti-trust measures, support for a more diverse retail sector, and policies for “tackling unfairness in global supply chains”.

Read the full report Research briefing: Super Market Failure: Low wages, high pay disparities and unfair trade – is this what we want from food retail? here. See also the Foodsource resource How does food interface with societal and health concerns?

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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