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.

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.


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Our private label cocoa and chocolate will be 100% certified by the end of 2020.



Our private label teas and tea sold in restaurants and hotels will be 100% certified or verifiably sustainable* by 2020.



Our private label coffees and coffee sold in restaurants and hotels will be 99% certified or verifiably sustainable* by the end of 2019.

The discount rates are recommendations and may vary between cooperatives. Larger discounts may be offered to employees during campaigns. Individual cooperatives may offer separate discounts related to their business operations to S Group’s employees. S Group’s partners also offer discounts to S Group’s employees.

Palm oil

We are committed to using sustainably produced palm oil. S Group’s goal is to only use physically certified palm oil traceable to palm oil plantations in private label products and in deep-frying oil in restaurants by 2021.

We have been a member of the Roundtable for 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.

In practice, the production of more responsible palm oil means that plantations have environmental management plans, fire is not used for clearing in the plantation area, employees have freedom of association, valuable natural forests are not felled and issues related to land ownership and use have been resolved.


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The S Group commits to the responsible use of soy. The Group’s aim is that the risk origin soy used as an ingredient in the own brand products, and all the risk origin soy feed used in the production chain of ingredients of animal origin in the own brand products (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) will be certified by the end of 2021.

The soy used in dishes served in the restaurants and cafés, as well as the risk origin soy used in the production chain of ingredients of animal origin (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) will also be certified by the end of 2021.

Responsible soy certificates are Round table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) and ProTerra. The aim of the certificates is to decrease the environmental impact of cultivation and further the natural diversity of the area, as well as improve the workers’ conditions and further the dialogue between the producers and the local communities.

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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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