Sugar Talk Sugar Talk
Ragus passes SMETA audit: what this means in sugar terms
Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) is the most widely adopted social auditing methodology in the world, enabling businesses to assess their sites and working conditions – and demonstrate evidence of their responsible business practices to their supply chain partners.
With Ragus recently passing its SMETA audit, we use this blog to explain what the social audit is, why it is important to the sugar industry, and how our successful SMETA audit benefits our supply chain partners.
The difference between Sedex and SMETA
Sedex is the ethical trade service body that aims to empower responsible global supply chains. With over 60,000 member organisations across 180 countries, Sedex is the world-leading ethical trade member organisation.
SMETA is one of Sedex’s assessment solutions. It is the social audit that Sedex offers to investigate and measure the social impact of an organisation – whether positive or negative – which can then be shared with suppliers and partners via Sedex’s digital platform.
SMETA is Sedex’s social auditing solution.
How does social auditing work?
Social auditing is a way of evaluating an organisation’s on-site working conditions. Typically, social audits assess the impact of the organisation on its employees, the local community and wider society.
Social audits are of course often conducted internally, but in modern business operations, most external stakeholders, parties or businesses will seek to understand the social impact of an organisation before they consider engaging with them – which requires an independent, third-party audit. This, of course, is where SMETA comes in.
How does the SMETA audit work?
Under SMETA audits, the standards of four areas of an organisation’s site are evaluated: labour, health and safety, environment and business ethics.
Trained auditors undertake the audits, which include on-site tours and observations, interviews with management and workers, and documentation inspections. Their findings are then reported in a SMETA Audit Report.
In response to the Covid pandemic, virtual assessments were also instituted, with remote assessments also taking place beforehand to test the organisation’s suitability for a virtual assessment in the first place.
On-site operations: bagging crystalline sugars at Ragus’ production facility.
Why is SMETA important for the sugar industry?
As the sugar industry is a global operation, it naturally presents challenges as working conditions vary in different regions. For example, while sugar beet is grown in the UK, the same cannot be said for sugar cane, which is grown and imported from hot, tropical nations across the globe.
And that just concerns the sourcing of primary production materials. Customers are often located outside of the UK and cannot always visit sugar production facilities to assess business practices first-hand. Not to mention the impact of the pandemic means such visits are not currently feasible, by and large.
As a result, social audits like SMETA give us at Ragus the opportunity to overcome global supply chain challenges and show our partners our social compliance.
Ragus passes its SMETA audit with zero non-conformances
By passing the SMETA audit with zero non-conformances, we can easily demonstrate the ethical nature of our business operations to suppliers and customers, providing them with the visibility they require to make more informed decisions about partnering with us.
It also demonstrates that our commitment to ethical supply chains is bidirectional. At Ragus, we have visited our beet and cane sugar suppliers in person for over a decade to audit their practices first-hand, as well as being a member of Sedex to digitally monitor their business practices, but now we have also given them the same level of visibility to review our own business operations from afar.
Meeting supply chain partners in-person. Left: Czech Republic. Right: Cambridgeshire, UK.
We weren’t asked to undertake this audit, either. We signed up ourselves to become fully transparent and give our supply chain partners complete visibility of our business in global society, and the standards we hold ourselves to. This desire to go one step further was also noted during the audit when our auditor was impressed by our decision to voluntarily publish an anti-modern slavery statement, though it was not a requirement.
At Ragus, we understand our social responsibility and are actively playing our part in improving business practices in the sugar industry.
Joining Ragus in 2017, Henry is the fifth generation of the Eastick family to work in the business. He has worked across our company, implementing plant and technology improvements in the factory to working in the lab developing a knowledge for our products. He focuses on our raw materials procurement as well as leading our digital transformation, adapting new technology and plant to meet our needs. His deep interest in nature and sustainability makes him a dedicated and passionate CSR manager.