Respect for Human Rights

Suntory Beverage & Food (“the Company”) considers respect for human rights to be its responsibility as a global corporation and indispensable to its business activities. Under the Suntory Beverage & Food Group Human Rights Policy, we are enhancing its existing initiatives by participating in dialogue and engaging with various stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, local communities, and NGOs, in order to ensure that the human rights of all people involved in our business are respected.

Policies and Our Approach

Suntory Beverage & Food Group Human Rights Policy

In 2019, the Suntory Group formulated the Suntory Group Human Rights Policy, based on business-specific key issues identified through dialogue with external human rights experts. Since then, we have been promoting activities to address important human rights issues, incorporating ongoing feedback from external experts obtained through dialogue. In 2024, to further promote respect for human rights, we formulated the Suntory Beverage & Food Group Human Rights Policy, which positions respect for human rights as a priority theme* among issues to be addressed by the Group.
Policy formulation and revisions are carried out with Board of Directors’ approval, and the Policy has been translated into nine languages spoken in countries where the Group does business. All company officers and employees are made aware of the Policy through e-learning and the company intranet.
Internally, we are also promoting further understanding of the Code of Business Ethics. Externally, we encourage suppliers and other business partners to understand the Suntory Group Human Rights Policy and we distribute copies of the Suntory Group Supplier (Partner) Guidelines, which include our requests and expectations relating to human rights. We also request that suppliers and partners confirm their agreement with these Guidelines.
Furthermore, we are introducing clauses in our vendor contracts requesting business partners to support our efforts to respect human rights, and are engaged in activities to promote respect for human rights throughout our value chain.

Suntory Beverage & Food Group Human Rights Policy

The Suntory Group's purpose is "To inspire the brilliance of life, by creating rich experiences for people, in harmony with nature", in order to contribute to the realization of a thriving society. The Suntory Beverage & Food Group (hereafter, the “Company Group”) recognizes that it may directly or indirectly impact human rights in the course of our business activities, and in order to respect the human rights of all people involved in our business activities as a member of the Suntory Group, the Suntory Beverage & Food Group Human Rights Policy (hereafter, this “Policy”) set out herein in accordance with the Suntory Group Human Rights Policy, will promote our efforts to respect human rights. This Policy serves as the primary guiding principle for all other human rights-related policies within the Company Group.

  1. Our Approach to Human Rights

    As a member of society, the Company Group recognizes the importance of respecting human rights in all business activities and respects the following international human rights principles:

    • United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
    • ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.
    • OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct;
    • UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs);
    • International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;
    • Children's Rights and Business Principles; and
    • Women’s Empowerment Principles

    The Company Group complies with relevant laws and regulations in each country or region where it operates. If laws and regulations in the countries and regions contradict the principles of international human rights, we will seek ways to respect internationally recognized human rights to the greatest extent possible. Where laws and regulations in the countries and regions differ from the international human rights principles, we strive to follow the higher standard. We support and respect the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact with Suntory Holdings Limited, a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact.

  2. Scope of Application

    The Company Group applies this Policy to all Company Group executives and employees. We also require all business partners involved in our business activities, products, and services to understand and comply with the principles set out in this Policy. Based on this policy, specific requirements for business partners will be established separately.

  3. Responsibility to Respect Human Rights

    The Company Group strives not to violate the human rights of anyone involved in our business activities and respects human rights throughout our value chain by taking appropriate measures to remediate any adverse human rights impacts.

  4. Human Rights Due Diligence

    The Company Group establish a human rights due diligence system, identify our potential adverse human rights impacts, and work to prevent and mitigate such impacts. By conducting human rights due diligence, we will identify and assess themes and areas of human rights which are high risk in the value chain, and take corrective measures to remediate adverse human rights impacts. We will incorporate clauses related to the respect for human rights into our standard partner contract form, including a provision that requires partners to cooperate on human rights due diligence.

  5. Remediation

    If it becomes clear that our business activities are causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts, the Company Group will remedy the situation through stakeholder engagement and other appropriate procedures aligned with international human rights principles. We will work with suppliers to remedy adverse impacts which are directly linked to our operations, products, or services. We do not prevent stakeholders who are adversely impacted from using judicial or non-judicial grievance mechanisms and will collaborate with these mechanisms as necessary to provide remedy.

  6. Grievance and Whistleblowing Mechanisms

    The Company Group offers various hotlines for executives and employees globally to report and consult human rights concerns. A designated contact point is also established to receive human rights concerns and inquiries from stakeholders including suppliers' employees, local communities, and customers. We prohibit any form of retaliation or discriminatory treatment against those who raise human rights related concerns. We will continuously review and improve our whistleblowing and grievance mechanisms to enhance their effectiveness.

  7. Disclosure

    The Company Group will timely and appropriately disclose the progress and results of our efforts to respect human rights on our website, etc.

  8. Stakeholder Engagement

    While implementing this Policy, the Company Group will take advice from independent experts and diligently engage in dialogue and consultation with internal and external stakeholders with the aim to understand and address adverse human rights impacts that arise or may arise from our business activities.

  9. Education and Training

    The Company Group will provide appropriate education and training to our officers and employees so that this Policy will be integrated appropriately into our business activities and implemented effectively. We will provide our business partners with education and training as necessary.

  10. Officer in Charge

    The Company Group will clarify the officer responsible for the implementation of this Policy and ensure its effectiveness. The Board of Directors of Suntory Beverage & Food Limited is responsible for overseeing the compliance and implementation status of this Policy.

  11. Important Themes regarding Human Rights

    Based on the Suntory Group Code of Business Ethics, the Company Group aims to realize a corporate group that is rewarding, and respects diversity, inclusion and human rights. We position the following items as key themes in respecting human rights.

  • Forced labor and human trafficking

    We strictly prohibit any form of forced labor including human trafficking. The labor practices*1 that may contribute to forced labor and human trafficking are also prohibited.

  • Child labor and young workers exposed to hazardous

    We strictly prohibit employing any child under the legal working age as prescribed in the laws and regulations of the relevant country or region. We also prohibit the assignment of hazardous or night work to workers under 18. We will verify the age of newly recruited workers and provide remedial measures to children or young workers identified.

  • Discrimination

    We will build a workplace where everyone is treated fairly by respecting the rights and personalities of each individual and eliminating all forms of discrimination based on ethnicity or race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, national or social origin, property, birth, language, disability, or other characteristics that are not relevant to a person’s capacity and aptitude. We strive to accommodate requests related to employees' religious practices within reasonable limits.

  • Inhumane treatment

    We do not tolerate inhumane treatment that threatens an individual’s dignity, including physical, sexual, racial, psychological, verbal, or any other form of harassment, bullying, or abuse.

  • Freedom of association and collective bargaining

    We will respect the basic rights of our employees to engage in freedom of association and collective bargaining. We will also prohibit intimidation, harassment, retaliation, and violence against trade union members and employees' representatives.

  • Occupational health and safety

    We will comply with the laws and regulations on occupational health and safety and implement an occupational safety and health management system. We will promote work styles that find balance between the professional and private lives of our employees while building a workplace that allows each person to work safely, securely and with enthusiasm in ways that are healthy, both mentally and physically.

  • Working hours

    We will appropriately manage working hours, holidays, and vacations in compliance with the laws and regulations of the relevant country or region. We strive to respect international standards where the local laws and regulations conflict with international standards or do not fully meet with them. We seek to ensure that overtime work is consensual and paid at an appropriate rate.

  • Wages

    In compliance with the laws and regulations of the country or region and other relevant provisions, we work to manage so that wages of our employees meet or surpass the statutory minimum, and overtime is compensated at the appropriate rate. We strive to pay a living wage that provides a decent standard of living for our employees and their families. Our employees are paid directly, regularly, and in full, on time, and are provided with a pay slip explaining any legitimate deductions.

  • Rights of foreign and migrant workers

    We respect foreign and migrant workers’ rights as set out in the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. We ensure appropriate working conditions and environments for foreign and migrant workers and prohibit discriminatory treatment against them.

  • Rights of local community including indigenous peoples

    We respect the ownership and use of land and natural resources and respect legitimate tenure rights related to the ownership and use of land and natural resources as set out in the international norms related to the rights of indigenous peoples*2. When acquiring water, land, or natural resources, we avoid adverse impacts on the rights and access of indigenous peoples and obtain free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) from the community as required.

  • Rights of human rights defenders

    We neither tolerate nor contribute to threats, intimidation, and attacks (both physical and legal) against human rights defenders. We will work with human rights defenders to create safe and enabling environments for civic engagement and human rights at local, national or international levels.

  • Open-minded workplaces

    We will foster an open-minded workplace that respects one another's beliefs, values, and diversity and where each and every employee can candidly express and share their views. We will also build cooperative relationships founded with unity through active communication throughout the Company Group.

  • Perseverance and growth

    We will realize the growth of individuals by fostering a feeling of pride and responsibility toward work in each and every individual so that they may independently persevere in achieving their goals.

  • *1
    The labor practices that may contribute to forced labor and human trafficking include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Companies or employers retaining personal documents, collecting recruitment fees and related costs from workers and job seekers, restricting workers’ freedom of movement, not providing employment terms in written form, and requiring workers to use company-provided accommodation.
    • Third-party recruitment intermediaries retaining personal identifications and collecting recruitment fees and related costs from workers and job seekers.
  • *2
    The international norms pertaining to the rights of indigenous peoples encompass:
    • International Finance Corporation Performance Standards
    • ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples No.169 Established

Established: 7th June 2024

Makiko Ono

Suntory Beverage & Food Limited
President and CEO

This Policy has been approved by the Board of Directors of Suntory Beverage & Food Limited.

Human Rights of Vulnerable Groups of People

In conducting its business activities, Suntory Beverage & Food believes it is crucial to be aware particularly of the human rights of vulnerable groups of people (women, children, migrant workers, etc.) impacted by its operations and supply chain. As a member of the Suntory Group, which is a corporate signatory to the UN Global Compact, the Company promotes human rights due diligence, taking into consideration global frameworks such as the Women's Empowerment Principles, the Children's Rights and Business Principles, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. We also expect our suppliers to do the same, respecting the human rights of all people in circumstances of vulnerability.

We also consider it crucial to protect land tenure, water access rights, and the rights of indigenous peoples. We will therefore promote human rights due diligence taking into account global frameworks such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT), the IFC Format Standard, and ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (No. 169). Furthermore, we expect the same respect from the Suntory Group's suppliers, including respect for ILO labor standards.
Additionally, we understand the important role played by human rights defenders, and regard them as stakeholders with whom we can collaborate in promoting human rights due diligence. We do not tolerate any discrimination or violence of any kind toward human rights defenders, and we require the same commitment from our suppliers.

Suntory Group Migrant Worker Employment Guidelines

Regarding migrant workers, who are especially vulnerable to forced labor, in February 2023 we began applying the Suntory Group Migrant Worker Employment Guidelines, an internal policy that gives guidance for its own operations-related divisions, as well as suppliers and business partners, on how to prevent risks from materializing, and also on how to provide remedies based on the Institute for Human Rights and Business’s Employer Pays Principle if and when risks have materialized. The Guidelines clearly state major issues faced by migrant workers and countermeasures.

Key Points of Migrant Worker Employment Guidelines
  1. Clearly states major issues (risks) where migrant workers are prone to disadvantage, such as bearing recruitment fees and related costs, retention of identification documents and certificates, and provision of adequate housing, and explains what measures should be taken
  2. Stipulates the principle that no worker should pay for a job, i.e., recruitment fees and related costs (as defined by the ILO) should be paid by the employer, not the worker

The Suntory Group, which includes the Company, shares these Guidelines with relevant internal divisions as well as suppliers and business partners in order to raise awareness of potential risks related to migrant workers. This enables them to take steps to prevent risks from materializing and to act promptly to mitigate impacts if and when they do. We also utilize Sedex and the SMETA management process (including multiple checkpoints regarding labor practices for migrant workers) to monitor and prevent migrant workers in our supply chain from bearing recruitment fees, based on the policy in these Guidelines.

Implementation Structure

For human rights due diligence, Suntory Beverage & Food participates in the Human Rights Working Team hosted by Suntory Holdings. This cross-functional team consists of relevant divisions, including HR, procurement, and sustainability. We participate in strategy formulation and progress monitoring. The Working Team reports progress to the Sustainability Committee, an advisory committee to the Board of Directors, and reports to the Board of Directors when necessary.

Integration with Corporate Risk Management

The Sustainability Committee assesses human rights risks as a top-priority issue in our corporate management in cooperation with the Risk Management Committee, which is in charge of risk management for the entire Group, and regularly engages in information-sharing and discussions about corporate risk management. It also collaborates and communicates with outside experts, such as lawyers specializing in human rights. The discussions of the Sustainability Committee and Risk Management Committee are reported to the Board of Directors as appropriate. In addition, we respond to Japanese traditional human rights issues through our Human Rights Education Promotion Committee, which consists of a central committee and Human Rights Promotion Committee members from each business location.

Suntory Beverage & Food
Promoting Structure

Human Rights Due Diligence Initiatives

Suntory Beverage & Food has identified six key human rights themes, including child labor and forced labor, the same as those stated in the Suntory Group Human Rights Policy, and promotes human rights due diligence globally.

Due Diligence Process

Employing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as a framework for implementation, Suntory Beverage & Food complies with relevant laws and regulations in each country or region where it operates, and conducts human rights due diligence in its operations and supply chain using the following process.

Identifying Stakeholders

Identifying and engaging with relevant stakeholders is important for advancing human rights due diligence. Stakeholders include rights holders who may be negatively impacted, as well as other relevant stakeholders such as NGOs, NPOs, and experts. In collaboration with external human rights experts, we identified the following key stakeholder groups, taking our business structure into consideration.

  1. Our employees, outsourced manufacturing employees, and the local community around the plants.
  2. Our business partners’ employees (suppliers, farms), the local community around our business partners’ plants and agricultural fields.
  3. Investors, benchmarking organizations
  4. NGOs, experts
  5. Customers


Identifying Human Rights-Related Risks

The process of formulating the Suntory Beverage & Food Group Human Rights Policy involved understanding the characteristics of our supply chain, particularly our own plants and the agricultural products from which our products are made, while leveraging information from a variety of external human rights-related reports. We also engaged in dialogue with human rights experts, and positioned issues that are important in our global business activities as key human rights themes to be addressed by the Group (and listed in the Policy). In implementing our business activities, we are promoting risks assessment internally and in our supply chain, focusing on these priority human rights themes.

Assessing Human Rights Risks

To manage human rights risks in the supply chain, we assess existing supplier risks using the Sedex SAQ* and assessment tools, SMETA information, third-party interviews, and other methods. These assessments include consideration of the geographic, economic, and social perspectives of the different regions and rightsholders that are prone to specific human rights risks. Based on the findings, we move forward as needed with detailed assessments, employing methods such as interviewing migrant workers in high-risk areas, and driving corrective actions by suppliers when we find issues with their initiatives.

  • *
    SAQ: Self-Assessment Questionnaire

Risk Assessment

Own Plants

We conducted a potential risk assessment of the countries where Suntory Beverage & Food’s 51 global plants operate. Plants located in countries with high risk for child labor and forced labor based on this assessment are in Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia. Going forward, we will conduct impact assessments at plants in high-risk regions to confirm the actual situation.

Potential Risk Assessment Results (Overall*)
Low risk 29 factories 56%
Mid risk 15 factories 30%
High risk 7 factories 14%
Very high risk 0 factories 0%
  • *
    Covered human rights risks: child labor, forced labor, working hours, fair wages and welfare, discrimination, harassment, freedom of association and, right to collective bargaining, access to remedy, health, and safety
Supply Chain

We conducted a potential risk assessment for the major raw materials purchased by Suntory Beverage & Food. (major ingredients × country combinations for a total of 91 patterns)

Potential Risk Assessment Results (Overall*)
Low risk 10 items 11%
Mid risk 40 items 44%
High risk 35 items 38%
Very high risk 6 items 7%
  • *
    Covered human rights risks: child labor, forced labor, working hours, fair wages and welfare, discrimination, harassment, freedom of association and, right to collective bargaining, access to remedy, health, and safety

The potential risk assessment found the following items have very high risk and very high impact (high purchasing volume) for child labor and forced labor.

Forced labor: coffee, oolong tea, and sugar
Child labor: coffee and sugar

Going forward, we will start with the very high risk, very high impact items for child labor and forced labor, and conduct impact assessments to grasp the actual situation.

Impact Assessment

Own Plants

We are using Sedex in order to visualize human rights risks and strengthen management at our own plants. We are assessing the management capability in relation to potential risks in 4 categories: (1) labor practices, (2) health and safety, (3) business ethics, and (4) environment. Assessment began in the first half of 2022, initially targeting our 10 factories in as well as 4 factories in overseas regions where there is a high level of potential risk (specifically, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand). Since the second half of 2022, the scope of assessment has been expanded to other factories.

(Number of plants)
Country where plants are located Potential risks Management capability
High Medium Low High Medium Low
Japan 0 1 9 10 0 0
Malaysia 0 1 0 0 1 0
Vietnam 0 6 0 1 5 0
Thailand 0 2 3 5 0 0
Philippines 0 0 1 1 0 0
Taiwan 0 1 0 1 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 1 1 0 0
France 0 2 2 4 0 0
Spain 0 1 1 1 1 0
United Kingdom 0 0 1 1 0 0

As shown in the figure above, of the 32 factories, 25 factories had "high" management capability, 7 factories had "medium" management capability, and no factory had "low" management capability toward the potential risks.
Particular attention was paid to confirming the situation in regard to child labor and forced labor, which we consider to be important human rights risks.

Child labor
There are no workers under the age of 15 or 18 years old, and therefore there seems to be no risk of child labor.

Forced labor
Several migrant workers were found at one factory overseas. Efforts are now being made to ascertain the details of their situation.

We have confirmed that in one of our plants there are temporary migrant workers who came through sending agencies in their respective countries. In order to mitigate risks related to forced labor, we consulted to a law firm specialized in human rights issues and did direct interviews with the workers with a special focus on recruitment fees and related costs, document retention, living environment, wages, working time, freedom of association, health and safety, and access to grievance mechanism. We identified areas for improvement in issues such as recruitment fees and related costs, and we are addressing them based on the IHRB’s "Employer Pays Principle" to avoid that migrant workers bear costs now and in the future. We will continue to monitor the situation of current and future migrant workers in order to prevent forced labor risks.

For plants with lower management capability, we will continue to strengthen management of important human rights risks. We also began using Sedex SAQ at all remaining plants outside Japan in the first half of 2023 and conducted assessments of all plants in our major businesses worldwide.

Supply Chain

The Suntory Group is working to promote activities for respecting human rights throughout the entire supply chain while linking to business partners by establishing the Basic Policy on Supply Chain Sustainability.

Impact Assessment by Sedex

The Suntory Group joined Sedex in June 2019, and since then we are engaging our suppliers to share information through Sedex by answering to the SAQ. These SAQs evaluate the potential social risks in the supply chain by focusing on child labor, forced labor and other human rights issues as well as considerations toward environmental issues, work environment, and occupation safety. As of November 2022, Suntory Beverage & Food has confirmed that more than 1,000 manufacturing sites of 600 major suppliers have joined the Sedex. We will continue to promote all major suppliers to join the Sedex. We will prioritize the strategy for each region based on the result of the risk assessment to formulate an action plan and promote corrective actions when needed.

Impact Assessment Status

Suntory Group identifies potential and inherent risks using a risk assessment tool offered by Sedex. Specifically, we evaluate the ability to manage potential and actualized risks of the suppliers with SAQ. In addition, we also confirm actualized risks based on third-party audit information that can be checked on Sedex.

Potential Risks of Suppliers (As of May 2023)

Suntory Beverage & Food continued with the potential risk assessments through Sedex, obtaining data from a total of 911 manufacturing sites (up to 13 cases compared to November 2022).

(Number of manufacturing sites/%)
  May 2023 Fluctuation November 2022
Low 248 27% 3 245
Medium 515 57% 14 501
High 85 9% 9 76
Waiting for answer 63 7% -13 76
Total 911     898
Actualized Risks of Suppliers (As of May 2023)

In the first half of 2022, Suntory Beverage & Food continued checking the non-compliances of our supplier's manufacturing sites obtained through Sedex third party audit data, with a total of 257 important non-compliances visualized (up 45 cases compared to November 2022).

Monitoring through Supplier Assessment Questionnaires

We also conduct sustainable procurement questionnaires for suppliers that have not joined Sedex. We examine not only our existing suppliers to identify those that are at high risk, but also assess potential new suppliers before we start business relationships.

Corrective Action

As part of our efforts to promote corrective measures, if it becomes clear that Suntory Beverage & Food business activities have directly caused a negative impact on human rights, or if an indirect negative impact by an entity which the Company has business relations with comes to light or is suspected, we will take corrective measures (remediation) in dialogue with related parties, based on international standards and through appropriate procedures.
Furthermore, we expect our suppliers to undertake corrective measures (remediation) as well. In order to implement corrective measures, we will also work with external organizations such as human rights experts (NPOs) and Sedex to engage suppliers regarding any issues discovered, and to work together on corrective steps.

Process for Avoiding, Preventing, and Remediating Human Rights Abuses

As stated in our Human Rights Policy, our key themes in human rights include child labor, forced labor, discrimination and harassment, freedom of association, and a good working environment (health and safety). We have identified numerous questions in the Sedex SAQ that relate to each of these key themes, and we use them for assessment and ongoing monitoring in our own plants and supply chain. We currently conduct continuous monitoring of our suppliers through Sedex, representing over 70% of our purchasing volume globally, and we strongly engage suppliers which we have been able to identify actualized risks. The monitoring process leverages also SMETA* audit information on the supply chain, including interviews with local workers. SMETA is the world’s leading audit framework, with a heavy focus on labor and health and safety, and it is specifically designed to help protect workers from unsafe conditions, overwork, discrimination, low pay and forced labor. SMETA also leverages the Forced Labor Indicator (FLI) embedded on the Sedex risks assessment platform in order to specifically monitoring forced labor risk. In this way, we try to leverage the voices of rightsholders.
The Suntory Group remediation process using Sedex and SMETA information is shown below.

  • *
    SMETA is one of the world’s leading audit schemes with a particular focus on labor, health, and safety. It aims to protect workers from issues such as occupational safety and health risks, excessive overtime, discrimination, low wages, and forced labor. To specifically monitor the risk of forced labor, SMETA utilizes the Forced Labor Indicators (FLI) incorporated into the Sedex risk assessment platform.

Cases of Potential Risk

  1. Goal: bring actualized risks down to zero.
  2. Index: Sedex risk and management scores.
  3. Timeframe: Check the risk score and management capability score periodically (about once every six months), and confirm the status of the improvement activities of business partners

Cases of Actualized Risk

  1. Goal: bring actualized risks down to zero.
  2. Index: key findings of third-party audit.
  3. Timeframe: confirm within 6 months that the identified issues have been resolved.

If it is not confirmed that indicated actualized risks have been resolved, we strongly encourage improvement by prompting suppliers to undergo SMETA audits.

Potential Risks of Suppliers (As of May 2023)

Regarding the above-mentioned potential risks that can be confirmed in Sedex, we also assess the management capability of our supplier’s manufacturing sites in respect to the potential risks. Based on that, we engage manufacturing sites, in particular sites with "high risk + low management capability" and work together to improve their management capability. As a result, from the start of these engagements with the suppliers in January 2021 to the end of May 2023, there were 221 manufacturing sites with at least 10% improvement in their management capability (28% of the total of sites), which is an increase of 144 manufacturing sites since the end of January 2021. Going forward, we will continue to engage our suppliers and promote improvement activities.
Suntory Beverage & Food also identifies plants with migrant workers who are considered to have potentially high human rights risks, and the number of such workers, then confirms whether issues specific to migrant workers have materialized.

Actualized Risks of Suppliers (As of May 2023)

Regarding the above-mentioned important non-compliances found through third-party audit data in Sedex, we communicate directly with our suppliers and confirm that the non-compliances found are corrected within 6 months. As of the end of May 2023, Suntory Beverage & Food has confirmed that 226 of the 257 important non-compliances have already been corrected. For the remaining 31 cases, we will continue to engage with our suppliers and promote improvement activities.

More specifically, the Suntory Group, including Suntory Beverage & Food has reviewed all Sedex SAQ responses regarding the following key human rights themes, and identified data indicating potential risks. At the same time, we check findings from SMETA audits to confirm whether potential risks have materialized. If they have, we engage the supplier and confirm the status of corrective measures.

Child Labor

We regard child labor as one of the key human rights risks in supply chains, and are strengthening management of suppliers through Sedex and SMETA information. For example, we use the questions in Sedex to identify direct and indirect workers who may be considered underage workers (under 15). In addition, based on actual on-site audits conducted through SMETA, we confirmed that worker age verification is being performed properly, and corrective actions are being taken when issues become apparent.
A review of SAQ responses indicated that there was no child labor by those under the age of 15. At 5% of plants, there were workers of ages 16-17, which by itself is a legal working age on the countries where those workers were found. The findings of one SMETA audit also noted a 17-year-old worker, but we have confirmed that this was not a problem under local law.
4 Instances of inadequate worker age records were also noted, but we have engaged the suppliers and confirmed that the recording methods have been corrected.

Forced Labor

We consider forced labor to be one of the key human rights risks in supply chains and are strengthening management of suppliers through Sedex and SMETA information (nearly 4% of workers in our 1st tier supply chain are migrant workers).

1) Recruitment fees
A review of SAQ responses showed that 1% of the respondents had no initiatives to address the burden of recruitment fees on workers. In addition, 3% of the respondents indicated that the workers bear costs in some form. SMETA audit also found 3 non-compliances related to the burden of recruitment fees on workers, but we confirmed that all of them have already been addressed by revising the supplier’s internal regulations and covering all costs on behalf of the workers. Similarly, there were findings regarding wage deductions, but we confirmed that there were no deductions that were problematic under local law.

2) Wages
A review of SAQ response showed that 8% of the responses indicated possible issues with overtime pay.
The review also showed lack of visibility regarding indirect employees’ minimum wage. SMETA audit findings also included non-compliances related to wages and non-compliances related to the management of overtime. We have engaged our suppliers and confirmed that currently there are no confirmed cases of uncorrected wage issues (the issues found had been solved).

3) Freedom of movement
No risk information regarding freedom of movement was found in the SAQ responses or the SMETA audit.

Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining (Supply Chain)

We consider impediments to freedom of association and collective bargaining to be one of the key human rights risks in supply chains, and are strengthening management of suppliers through Sedex and SMETA information to prevent infringement of these rights. For example, we leverage questions in Sedex to check the presence of labor unions, as well as processes and organizations in which workers can participate and have their participation reflected in decision-making by the supplier company. Based on those questions, we know that in 84% of our 1st tier supply chain there is a process, organization or arrangement workers can use to input into company decision making, and that 76% of our direct supply chain have trade unions which are deemed to have a collective agreement in place.
In addition, we confirm through SMETA audit data whether the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are being protected, and engage in corrective actions when issues become apparent and are uncorrected.
On the point of whether processes, organizations, and arrangements were in place for workers to use and reflect in company decision making, the SAQ data indicated that 12% of supplier manufacturing sites did not have these mechanisms in place. In addition, data from the SMETA audit included three findings related to freedom of association and collective bargaining, but we have confirmed that corrections have already been made.

Health and Safety

We regard health and safety to be one of the key human rights risks in supply chains, and we are strengthening management of our dealings with our suppliers through Sedex and SMETA information to promote their health and safety conditions. For example, we leverage questions in Sedex to check facts such as whether a health and safety policy is in place, whether there have been any serious work accidents, the numbers of participants in fire safety drills, and the supplier's existing efforts to enhance health and safety. We also analyze similar data through SMETA audits and engage in corrective actions when issues are apparent and uncorrected.
The SAQ data showed that 2% of production plants had more than 100 recorded accidents in the past 12 months, in which 1% reported more than 20 serious accidents. We will engage with these high-risk supplier manufacturing sites and work toward enhancing their occupational safety. Data from the SMETA audit also showed non-compliances, with remedial actions having already been taken. We will continue to engage with suppliers on the remaining issues for which corrective actions are still pending. Corrective actions for the health and safety risks found through the Sedex SAQ answers and non-compliance by SMETA were shared with other suppliers to improve health and safety management.

Land Rights

We are strengthening management of suppliers through Sedex information to identify human rights risks related to land rights. Specifically, we leverage questions in Sedex to determine whether the land on which a given supplier's production plant is sited was used as a residence before construction. The SAQ results showed that 1% of such land was used for residential buildings prior to conversion to an industrial site. We will engage with the suppliers to confirm whether there is a possibility that the conversion could have led to a violation of land rights.

Water Access and Sanitation

We are strengthening management of suppliers through Sedex data to understand risks related to the water access and sanitation rights of local communities. For example, we leverage questions in Sedex to check various pollution risks (soil, rivers, etc.) from supplier operations, their water usage volumes, whether they manage wastewater, and management of water quality impacts on local areas. The SAQ results showed that 2% of the manufacturing plants were not managing quality of their wastewater. The SMETA audit data showed non-compliances, of which is either already corrected or we are working on with the supplier to solve the issue.

Women's Rights

We are strengthening management of suppliers through Sedex data to identify risks related to women's rights (26% of workers in our 1st tier supply chain are women). For example, we leverage questions in Sedex to check the ratio of male to female workers, the ratio of female managers, whether anti-discrimination policies are in place, and rates of absenteeism and turnover among female workers. The SAQ data showed that 5% of manufacturing sites did not have separate washing facilities for men and women, 5% of manufacturing sites had a turnover rate among female workers of more than 50% during the previous year, and 2% of manufacturing sites had an absenteeism rate among female workers of more than 30% during the previous year. The data from the SMETA audits, however, did not confirm any non-compliance in this respect.

Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining (Within the Group)

At Suntory Group companies in Japan, including Suntory Beverage & Food, labor union representatives and management regularly hold labor-management councils to closely discuss a wide range of topics, from labor issues to management and business issues. Management sincerely responds to matters pointed out by the labor union. As of the end of fiscal 2022, the labor union participation rate at Suntory Beverage & Food was 100% (all employees except management are eligible to participate).

Reducing Excessive Working Hours

In addition to thoroughly complying with labor-related laws including working hours in each country, the Suntory Group, which includes Suntory Beverage & Food, pursues cooperation between labor and management to limit long working hours, prohibit unpaid overtime, and encourage employees to take paid annual leave. The Company has introduced systems to check various attendance information such as PC-usage times daily, supporting self-management while implementing improvement guidance and other measures as needed.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Actions Taken (Monitoring)

We measure the effectiveness of our assessment and remediation efforts through Sedex at our plants and in our supply chain by measuring the degree of improvement across multiple risks (health and safety, worker age, discrimination, work based on free choice, etc.) before and after the execution of remediation efforts addressing the risks we have identified through the Sedex. In the case of Sedex assessment, there are items for which it is challenging to reduce the potential risk, but even if the potential risk is high, the risk can be controlled if the if management capability is high. Based on this premise, we focus on improving management capability as we undertake corrective actions at our own plants and with our suppliers.
Furthermore, as part of the series of steps noted above, we provide feedback to stakeholders on the results of our effectiveness measurement, and carry out direct engagement that leads to further actions for improvement.

Action Plan

While taking into consideration the risks and other factors identified through the above process, we will implement the following priority initiatives as our action plan.

Own Plants

We will carry out assessment activities utilizing Sedex's new assessment SAQ at principal domestic- and international-business plants during 2024 and 2025. We also plan to promote similar Sedex assessment activities with contract manufacturers and with subcontractors operating in our plants.

Supply Chain

With regard to tier 1 suppliers, we will continue to promote the remedy of important non-compliances that have become apparent through Sedex, and will continue to encourage suppliers to improve their management capabilities with regard to potential risks. In addition, we will move forward with impact assessments for upstream suppliers in our main raw materials supply chain.

Migrant Workers

We will identify sites other than our own plants where immigrant workers (especially technical intern trainees) are present, and consider necessary steps depending on the degree to which the significant risk of forced labor is present.

Access to Remedy

Internal Reporting System


The basic rule at the Suntory Group, which includes Suntory Beverage & Food, is that an employee who discovers actions that breach the Suntory Group’s Code of Business Ethics must first report it to a supervisor and seek that person’s advice. However, we have also established a Compliance Hotline both internally (our Compliance Office) and externally (3rd party law firm) as contact point for all of the Group companies in Japan in order to quickly discover and resolve compliance issues when reporting or consulting with a supervisor is not appropriate. Any of issues including corruption such as bribery which breaches the Code of Business Ethics should be covered.
Both mechanisms are available in multiple languages so that foreign employees who do not speak Japanese fluently can use easily use them. In addition, we provide an independent internal contact point at 11 Group companies and conduct annual training to improve the response of those in charge of this independent contact point in the Compliance Department.
We have also implemented a global contact point for compliance issues encompassing all Group companies in Japan and globally as part of our global risk management system.
This contact point supports multiple languages such as English, Chinese, and Spanish, and accepts reports and consultations from multiple countries. Additionally, in order to avoid accessibility issues due to technical or financial reasons, we have made this mechanism accessible to all employees through different methods (digital and analog), including web, smartphones, telephone, and mail. The internal awareness of this mechanism is measured every year through initiatives such as the "Employee Awareness Survey" as a way to engage users and assess the current mechanism, and the current awareness rate is over 90%. We also strive to keep improving the awareness rate and accessibility of this mechanism by sharing these results (including comparisons with previous year) with our top management.
In 2022, Suntory Beverage & Food received 99 reports. Around 60% concerned labor, personnel, and management issues, including some regarding human rights. If there is a suspicion of non-compliance based on the content of the report, we take into consideration the privacy protection of all persons involved in accordance with the Suntory Group Internal Reporting System Regulations. In that case, the compliance officer promptly conducts a confidential investigation within the company, and promptly requests correction while escalating to the relevant executive in charge, so that measures can be taken as soon as possible in order to avoid any negative impact to the reporter. The results of the survey are shared to the reporter and management, respectively, to promote corrective measures and prevent recurrence. After a certain period of time has passed after the response, we close the case once we receive a report on the state of change from senior management as a follow-up.
On the other hand, for harassment, a key issue where differences in values with colleagues and associates often underlie problems, we provide opportunities to learn about unconscious bias, aiming to build a culture where all parties can acknowledge such differences, and we have started holding seminars as occasion demands to build a tolerant organization.

Protecting the Reporters

Based on our internal regulations, Suntory Beverage & Food prohibits any type of negative impact such as retaliation or spread of rumors and does not force confidentiality on the reporters. In order to achieve this, when the Compliance Office conducts an investigation it identifies the persons concerned and then confirms the "internal reporting system regulations", protecting thus the rights of the reporter. In addition, during the interviews with the reporter on the closing of each case, we also check that reporters have not suffered any disadvantages during the process. Furthermore, we are working to create a culture in which compliance reports are protected not only by the persons concerned but also by the entire workplace by proactively disseminating the "internal reporting system regulations" within the company on a daily basis.

External Reporting System

Since its founding, the Suntory Group has placed customer satisfaction first and valued proactive communication with customers. In addition, based on our belief that all our stakeholders are customers, suppliers are also regarded as important customers. Therefore, when promoting human rights due diligence, we think it is important that not only our employees, but also our direct suppliers, their own suppliers, as well as other related parties (their local community, etc.) have access to a grievance mechanism, including human rights issues.
Furthermore, as stated in our supplier guidelines, we expect suppliers to establish similar grievance mechanisms (with no retaliation) within their own supply chain, thereby striving to promote access to remedy upstream in our supply chain. Currently, we have established a Customer Center as a contact point for suppliers and their related parties (communities) to use. The Customer Center accepts inquiries from all customers.
For human rights issues and other inquiries from suppliers, please contact us using the form below (English/Japanese available)

Grievance Mechanism for Migrant Workers

In order to strengthen its human rights due diligence efforts, the Suntory Group, which includes Suntory Beverage & Food, joined the multi-stakeholder initiative, "Japan Platform for Migrant Workers towards Responsible and Inclusive Society" (JP-MIRAI) in 2023.
With this step, we aim at building a grievance mechanism in which we can gather not only the voices of our supply chain workers and/or their representatives without any type of retaliation or censorship (particularly from vulnerable groups such as migrant workers), but also directly share with them helpful information regarding life in a foreign country, how to obtain language support, etc. in order to improve their quality of life and protect their rights.

JUsers can seek for help anonymously by phone, chat, or email, and they are first connected to an independent NPO specialized in supporting migrant workers, who then escalates to us based on the contents shared by the worker. After that, we promptly analyze if any risks may be occurring, and engage the corresponding parties in order to help the worker and deliver remedy as soon as possible.

This service is available in 9 languages: "easy" Japanese, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Chinese and Burmese.
More information about JP-MIRAI can be found on the following link:

Stakeholder Engagement

We utilize information on Sedex and third-party interviews as key processes to engage with stakeholders (rights holders).
As an example of information gathering through Sedex, when we implement Sedex at our own plants, we communicate directly with the office management of each plant to exchange opinions from the perspective of human rights risks. In doing so, we listened to their perspectives on human rights and related issues of migrant workers (communication, cross-cultural understanding, and creating a more comfortable workplace). We regard this as important information to be used in our future human rights due diligence efforts.

Stakeholder Communication

We believe that communicating with stakeholders on human rights risks and impact is critical to our stakeholder engagement. For example, we carry out direct communication that is attentive to rights holders, and we communicate through briefings for suppliers (on supplier guideline compliance).

On the other hand, while identifying and approaching rights holders upstream in the supply chain is a very important component of stakeholder communication, it is also a challenging area of activity that must be addressed step by step and after proper prioritization. We plan to engage and communicate with the main stakeholders of the high-potential-risk and high-impact raw materials that we identified in 2021.

Dialogue with Experts

To strengthen human rights strategies and initiatives, the Suntory Group, which includes Suntory Beverage & Food, regularly exchanges opinions with experts. In 2023, the Suntory Group held dialogues with the human rights NGO Human Rights Watch and a human rights expert at an international NGO.

The dialogue with Human Rights Watch covered the need to assess for human rights risks when considering business expansion as well as responses if and when human rights issues materialize. The Suntory Group has also received advice from a human rights expert at a global NGO on aspects of human rights initiatives that should be considered anew based on the EU’s draft due diligence directive. The Group will continue holding such dialogues going forward and reflect insights into its human rights initiatives.

Dialogue with Experts in Recent Years
Year Contents
  • Ethical production activities and migrant workers in the Group’s production sites
  • Progress of the risk assessment activities for the Group's own factories and migrant workers.
  • How to proceed efficiently and effectively risk assessment on raw ingredients and migrant workers in the corona disaster.
  • Methods for grasping human rights risks and responses when human rights issues materialize
  • Human rights initiatives that should be considered anew based on the EU’s draft due diligence directive

Raising Human Rights Awareness Among Employees and Suppliers

Awareness-raising activities for employees

As a member of the Suntory Group, Suntory Beverage & Food provides annual sustainability e-learning on the Suntory Group Code of Business Ethics, which covers matters including the prevention of corruption such as bribery, and global ESG trends including human rights as well as the Company’s response initiatives, for around 20,000 employees. This helps raise employee awareness within the company. A booklet summarizing the Suntory Group’s system of philosophy is distributed to all Suntory Beverage & Food officers and employees. It includes the Code of Business Ethics to promote understanding of the Code and ensure that it is practiced in daily activities. The booklet is translated into 11 languages, and employees read and sign copies annually to ensure thorough awareness. Group companies outside Japan also undertake similar awareness-raising activities locally.

We conduct not only position-based personnel training such as human rights training for new managers each year, but also internal awareness-raising program such as department-level human rights lectures and seminars. All employees in the procurement department, which is closely involved with supplier environmental and human rights initiatives, undergo sustainability training, including human rights. We also conduct compliance awareness training for managers including how to respond to harassment reports.

Training on Human Rights in the Workplace

In Japan, in addition to position-based human rights training such as for new managers and new employees, Suntory Beverage & Food also holds human rights lectures and seminars at the department level. In 2018, we held a human rights lecture titled “Corporate Human Rights Issues Regarding Sexual Minorities” and utilized the video of the lecture in seminars at sales offices across Japan. Since 2020, we have been holding even more practical human rights awareness seminars on human rights issues in the workplace, both online and in-person.

Awareness-Raising Activities for Suppliers

At annual supplier meetings, the Suntory Group explains what it expects from suppliers in terms of respect for human rights, including labor and health and safety, using the Supplier Guidelines. Over 98% of the Suntory Group’s total purchasing volume is covered by suppliers attending these explanatory meetings.
Additionally, in 2022 the Suntory Group, which includes Suntory Beverage & Food, started an annual sustainability training program for major suppliers. The program covers human rights issues such as forced labor and child labor, raising ingredient supplier awareness of these risks and understanding how to act to prevent and mitigate them. Over 120 people from 50 supplier companies attended the first training session. The effectiveness of this training is measured based on the human rights-related scores in the Sedex assessment tool.
Further, in November 2023 we held a meeting to exchange opinions with domestic packaging suppliers regarding occupational health and safety, including opinions regarding prevention of serious accidents, which is a cross-sectional issue, based on the Sedex assessment. Through discussion with suppliers, we debated which measures could be taken to prevent accidents during dangerous operations, for example when operating forklifts. In addition, suppliers gave presentations profiling their internal awareness-raising approach with respect to such measures. As a forum for proactive awareness-raising with respect to occupational health and safety, the meeting served as a Sedex human rights evaluation activity.

Statement on legislation of human rights due diligence by Group companies around the world