UK receives low rating for sustainable sourcing

An index report from the Better Buying initiative has analysed the purchasing practices of a number of companies. The report has used data anonymously submitted by suppliers to measure the performance of brands in the apparel, footwear and household textiles industries. The report covers results from 2018’s fourth financial quarter. Out of the ratings that were submitted, the areas experiencing the worst purchasing practices included Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, Turkey, the UK and the USA. The UK received a Net Buyer Impact score of -9 in the report, significantly lower than Bangladesh’s +13. According to the report, only 35 per cent of suppliers to British retailers in these industries had been incentivised by these retailers to comply with sustainable sourcing practices. In contrast, 62.8 per cent of suppliers to Bangladesh had been incentivised to source materials through sustainable methods.

The UK has also been shown to be one of the worst actors in terms of month-to-month order variation. Suppliers to the UK reported significant demand variation from the UK 92.5 per cent of the time in the period assessed (Q4 2019). This figure makes the UK the country with the most widely varied demand on the list of assessed regions. This significant short term variation makes it difficult for suppliers to plan ahead and find ways to responsibly source materials.

The supply chains of numerous industries have often been criticised for sustainability practices. The report claims that a factor in Bangladesh’s higher Net Buyer Impact score is the industry’s ability to satisfy needs for low-cost, high-volume production of core products. On the other hand, regions like Hong Kong and the UK who have some of the lower Net Buyer Impact scores tend to focus on providing any product for any customer at any time. The volatility of demand creates late forecasts and unpredictable monthly volumes and prices for suppliers to Hong Kong and the UK. The report encourages brands in these regions to adjust supply chain practices toward sustainability, for example, “sticking with suppliers for the long-term, rather than jumping from location to location in search of the best trade deal or lowest cost”.

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