At a ceremony attended by agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll, Carrefour , Auchan , Casino, Système U, Lidl and Intermarché agreed to criteria designating ‘fournisseurs responsables’ (responsible suppliers), created in 2010.
The resulting quality seal aims to represent commitments to improving relations between buyers and suppliers, including good procurement practices. It covers payment delays, transparency in tender offers and environmental issues, among others.
Backed by the French government, it aims to distinguish French companies that demonstrate sustainable and balanced relationships with their suppliers.
Other industrial sectors have committed to similar programmes, but the food retail sector had argued that the criteria could not be the same for multinational suppliers and SMEs. However, smaller food manufacturers had objected, saying it was unacceptable to differentiate between larger and smaller firms.
Commenting on the agreement, Carrefour said the signing of this initiative was part of an existing company plan to engage with more than 4,000 SMEs and 20,000 producers.
Executive director of Carrefour France Noël Prioux said in a statement: "Every day, we work on developing the relationships we have with our partners, and this is what underpins what we do – whether it be in order to improve our offerings for customers, to innovate, to speed up listing, to work together on improving quality or to encourage responsible growth.”
Final terms for the initiative are due to be set by November 30.