Ethical approach - S Group
Ethical approach

Ethical approach

We are committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and promoting them in our operations. We expect the same of our partners.

Human rights

Companies must be aware of the effects of their operations on human rights, both near and far. Our operations have an impact, in particular, on the human rights of customers, employees and the employees of the providers of products and services within the supply chain.

Our human rights principles describe how we identify and assess the impact of our activities on human rights. In addition, they indicate the practices we have to minimise and eliminate any adverse impact. Read more about the principles here.

From our customers’ perspective, the most essential human rights are non-discrimination, the right to health and children’s right to special protection. Above all, non-discrimination means the equal treatment of customers.

We play special attention to making our locations and services as safe and accessible as possible. We ensure product safety through careful self-monitoring, such as the monitoring of the cold chain. In addition to ensuring product safety, we safeguard children’s rights by enforcing age limits, for example.

From our employees’ perspective, the most essential human rights include occupational safety, equality and non-discrimination. We also respect employees’ right to join trade unions and do not tolerate any kind of discrimination or harassment.

In addition, our operations have an indirect impact on the human rights of the employees in the supply chains of products and services. We use third-party audits to monitor occupational safety and the implementation of employees’ freedom of association and other labour rights, particularly in countries that are high-risk in terms of social responsibility.

To supplement traditional audits, we introduced the Radical Transparency model in 2018. This is a new type of research model that examines the root causes of human rights issues. It enables us to address current issues related to products and production countries in more detail and seek new types of effective solutions in cooperation with our partners. We publish the results of these studies.

The first Radical Transparency study was carried out by Oxfam, an independent non-governmental organisation, in the Foggia region in southern Italy. You can download the report The people behind the prices here.

Ethical principles

We are committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and promoting them in our operations. We expect the same of our partners.

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Anonymous reporting channel

Anonymous reporting channel

S Group is committed to operating openly, transparently, and in observance of ethical principles. Because an ethical operating culture is important to us, we have partnered with WhistleB to offer an anonymous reporting channel that will allow you to report any suspicion of misconduct on our part, or of actions that violate our ethical principles.

Anonymous reporting channel (global)

Anonymous reporting channel (Russia)

Responsible procurement

We have worked for a long time to ensure responsible procurement. Our procurement operations are guided by the principle of non-discrimination, product-specific quality requirements and a commitment to respecting human and labour rights in purchases made from high-risk countries.

In the procurement of our private label products, responsibility and product safety are ensured throughout the process. Our procurement contracts require the providers and manufacturers of raw materials to comply with the requirements of the law and collective labour agreements, human rights and international minimum labour standards.

Our principle is that direct purchases of our own brand and own import products from risk countries are from audited suppliers. Audits refer to factory inspections, such as amfori BSCI audits or equivalent third-party audits. In the amfori BSCI system, independent auditors inspect production plants to ensure that the criteria of the Code of Conduct are met in practice. Audits cover, for example, working time and occupational safety practices, as well as the payment of the statutory minimum wage.

You can read more about our key figures related to responsible procurement in S Group’s annual review.

Read more about the responsibility of our textiles.

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Disclosing the country of origin

It is important for us to disclose the origin of products to the customer as transparently and conveniently as possible. For this reason, the packaging of food products in S Group’s Rainbow, Kotimaista and X-tra lines provides information about both the country of manufacture and the country of origin of the product’s main raw material. Information about the country of manufacture is also included on the packaging or care instructions of private label consumer goods, such as household textiles and clothes.

In addition, we publish the factory information for our private label and imported textiles annually.

Assessing the environmental impact of product manufacture

We have joined the Business Environmental Performance Initiative (BEPI) programme. BEPI is a programme of the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) for assessing and developing the environmental effects of production plants. In the BEPI programme, production plants are provided with guidance on environmental management, for example, and on improving the efficiency of energy and water use, processing waste and reducing emissions.

We have participated in developing the BEPI programme since 2012. Some of our suppliers have already received training through the programme. The next step is to further specify the plans to implement BEPI.

Coffee, tea and cocoa

We are committed to procuring sustainably and responsibly produced coffee, tea and cocoa for S Group’s private label products. S Group’s restaurants are committed to procuring sustainably and responsibly produced coffee and tea.

Palm oil

S Group’s goal is to only use certified palm oil traceable to palm oil plantations in private-label products and in deep-frying oil in restaurants by the end of 2021. S Group has been a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) since 2011. RSPO’s criteria for palm oil plantations include the conservation of biodiversity and the improvement of operations through ethical and ecological standards. S Group promotes the use of RSPO certified palm oil in its private-label daily consumer goods. Whenever possible, we also replace palm oil with alternative ingredients.


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Our goal is that soy from high-risk countries that is used as an ingredient in our private-label products, as well as soy feed from high-risk countries that is used in the production chains of animal-based ingredients (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) for our private-label products, will be certified by the end of 2021. Soy from high-risk countries that is used in meals served in our restaurants and cafés, as well as soy feed from high-risk countries that is used in the production chains of animal-based ingredients (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) for the meals, will also be certified by the end of 2021. Responsible soy certificates include Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) and ProTerra. We also encourage our suppliers to use alternative raw materials in animal feed.

Read more about our palm oil policies and goals.

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We are committed to only procuring fish and shellfish from sustainable stocks. We promote the traceability of fish by enabling our customers to trace the origin of Rainbow tuna and Kotimaista perch-pike fillets, for example.

We also promote improved selections of Finnish fish in particular by bringing new Finnish fish products to our grocery stores.

We procure fish in line with our fish policy, which is based on the species endangerment classification, the WWF’s seafood guide, the recommendations of the Marine Conservation Society and research data from the Natural Resources Institute Finland. The policy applies to S Group’s centralised procurement and purchases made by the cooperatives in both grocery stores and restaurants within S Group.

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Yhteishyvä/ Paula Myöhänen

S Group’s policy for promoting animal welfare

S Group is committed to responsible procurement, and we respect animal welfare. This policy assembles the expectations relating to the production of animal-based products in S Group’s product ranges.

Photo: Yhteishyvä/ Paula Myöhänen

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Our restaurants are committed to increasing the share of Finnish meat in their selections.

Our ABC restaurants only serve Finnish pork, beef and chicken. For our other chains of restaurants, the goal is for the fresh chicken and pork to be 100% of Finnish origin by the end of 2020. For frozen and processed foods, the goal is 90% of Finnish origin.

We are also committed to compliance with stricter restrictions on antibiotics in meat production than the regulations require. The excessive use of antibiotics leads to ever stronger antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. This is a global problem.

We do not approve routine-like antibiotic medication or antibiotic feed for healthy animals. Antibiotics must only be used when prescribed by a veterinarian, and their use must be limited to treating sick animals.

In the future, we will require all suppliers that produce our private label products using foreign meat to comply with S Group’s best practices and requirements for using antibiotics.

Use of Finnish meat at our restaurants

ABC restaurants

Our ABC restaurants only serve Finnish pork, beef and chicken.


Our other restaurants

Our goal is for our other restaurant chains to only serve Finnish pork and chicken by the end of 2020.

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For a healthier daily life

Food plays a key role in promoting health and well-being. We work to offer everyone opportunities for healthy eating, and we have made a nutrition commitment to increase the consumption of vegetables and promote healthy eating among children, for example.

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We do not permit the use of the sandblasting method in the manufacturing of denim products sold under S Group’s private labels.

Manual sandblasting of textiles with insufficient protective equipment is hazardous. This prohibition is recorded in our procurement criteria and our product requirements for the suppliers of S Group’s private label products.

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