Woolworths
Supermarkets and other retail
Australia's largest supermarket operator, and NZ's second largest. Sold Dick Smith Electronics in 2012, closed its failed Masters hardware chain in Dec 2016, sold its petrol retail business to Euro Garages in 2019, and spun off its liquor retail and hospitality businesses in 2021, creating ASX-listed Endeavour Group.

Overall

Owned AUS
Rating C
About the Ratings
Woolworths Group Ltd
AUS

Company Assessment

Woolworths Group Ltd
Praise
The 2021 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) report ranks global food companies on how they are managing and reporting their farm animal welfare policies and practices. This company appeared in tier 2, "Integral to business strategy", with tier 1 being the best, and tier 6 the worst.
Greenpeace's Reenergise campaign ranks Australia's biggest electricity using companies on their commitments and actions regarding renewable energy use. This company has: committed to powering their operations by 100% renewable electricity by 2030; signed at least one power purchase agreement (PPA) to buy power from a wind or solar project; invested in on-site solar.
This company received a packaging performance level of 4 (Leading) in its 2024 APCO Annual Report. Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) is a not-for-profit organisation leading the development of a circular economy for packaging in Australia. Each year, APCO Members are required to submit an APCO Annual Report and Action Plan, which includes an overall performance level from 1 (Getting Started) to 5 (Beyond Best Practice).
Source: APCO (2024)
The PalmOil Scan app, produced by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), rates companies on their commitment to sourcing sustainable palm oil. Companies are scored on their use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), commitment to sourcing CSPO, on-the-ground conservation action, and membership to the RSPO. Companies can earn a rating of Excellent, Good, Poor or No Commitment. This company is rated "Good" (retrieved 18 Nov 2023).
Source: WAZA (2023)
In 2023, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) asked companies to provide data about their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change risk. Responding companies are scored across four key areas: disclosure; awareness; management; and leadership. This company received a CDP Climate Change score of B.
Source: CDP (2023)
The 2022 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark assessed 127 companies in the food and agriculture, ICT and automotive manufacturing sectors on their human rights performance. This company received a score of 42.1%. The overall average score was a disappointing 17.3% and the highest score was 50.3%.
In 2023 KnowTheChain benchmarked 60 food and beverage companies on their efforts to identify and tackle forced labour risks in their supply chains. This company received a score of 56/100. The average score was a disappointing 16/100 and the highest score was 56/100.
Modern slavery disclosure is a critical step in mitigating the risk associated with modern slavery practices in companies' operations and supply chains. The quality of the disclosure signals the level of commitments and efforts that the companies have put in managing these risks. In 2021 the Monash Centre for Financial Studies analysed and ranked the disclosure quality of the modern slavery statements submitted by the 300 largest listed companies on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX300). This company's modern slavery disclosure statement received a grade of A.
This company won the National Banksia Gold Award at the 2023 Banksia Sustainability Awards. "Our sustainability program has brought teams right across Woolworths Group together to collectively drive short and long-term action on our ambitions across our pillars of People, Planet and Product."
The 2023 Food and Agriculture Benchmark assessed 350 keystone companies across the entirety of the food system, from farm to fork. It covers three dimensions where transformation is needed: nutrition, environment and social inclusion. This company ranked #14/350, with a total score of 43.3/100.
Criticism
The Green Supply Chain Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI) evaluates consumer-facing companies that have a sizeable supply chain in China. The evaluation uses government supervision data and public information to assess the environmental management of their supply chains in China. This company received a score of 15/100 (retrieved 24 Nov 2023).
Source: IPE (2023)
Forest 500 identifies the 350 companies and 150 financial institutions with the greatest exposure to tropical deforestation risk, and annually assesses them on the strength and implementation of their deforestation and human rights commitments. This company received a score of 35%.
Greenpeace Australia's 2024 Deforestation Scorecard assessed how 10 of Australia's major beef buyers and producers stack up in terms of becoming deforestation-free by 2025. Australia has one of the worst rates of deforestation in the world, driven largely by the bulldozing of forests for beef cattle grazing. Woolworths scored 4/10. "Woolworths has a conservative commitment to achieving net zero deforestation by the end of 2025 but provides little information on how this will be done. Woolworths states it is looking into the practicalities of transitioning to a stronger target to align with global best-practice."
In 2020 this company paid a $1 million penalty, handed down by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), in response to more than five million breaches of spam law. The ACMA discovered that Woolworths sent marketing emails to consumers, between October 2018 and July 2019, even though they had previously unsubscribed from these messages. The infringement notice for $1,003,800 is the largest ever issued by the ACMA.
In 2021 Woolworths announced it had provisionally settled a class action lawsuit filed against it by a Canberra law firm in 2019 for underpaying supermarket workers. The retailer said it would make an ex-gratia payment of $2,500 plus superannuation to about 20,000 current and former salaried team store members. This takes the total payments to staff under the class action settlement to around $50 million.
Source: ACCC (2021)
In contrast to consumer expectations and free range eggs standards across the world, the government caved to pressure from a few industrial scale egg producers and major retailers to introduce a free range eggs standard in 2017 allowing producers to pack 10,000 hens into a hectare. The CSIRO, RSPCA, Choice and many others recommend a maximum of 1,500 hens per hectare. This company uses a stocking density of 10,000 hens per hectare for its Woolworths free range eggs, well in excess of consumer expectations.
This company received an S&P Global ESG Score of 36/100 in the Food & Staples Retailing category of the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment, an annual evaluation of companies' sustainability practices (last updated 16 Dec 2022). The rankings are based on an analysis of corporate economic, environmental and social performance, assessing issues such as corporate governance, risk management, environmental reporting, climate strategy, human rights and labour practices.
Information
In 2019 Break Free From Plastic engaged 72,541 volunteers in 51 countries to conduct 484 brand audits. These volunteers collected 476,423 pieces of plastic waste, 43% of which was marked with a clear consumer brand. While not in the global top 10, this company ranked as Australia's worst plastic polluter.
In August 2007 the giant supermarket chain Woolworths was revealed to be marketing some of its own tissue and paper products sporting a 'Sustainable Forest Fibre' logo and stating that they were made from 'a certified environmentally managed company that is environmentally, socially and economically responsible'. While the products indicated that they were sourced from Indonesia, the only hint as to which company was the supplier were the letters APP on one tissue pack (APP is the acronym for Asia Pulp and Paper). [Listed under information due to age of report]
In 2011 the Therapeutic Goods Administration's Complaints Resolution Panel upheld a complaint about an ad by this company on the grounds that it breached advertising codes. The ad was subsequently withdrawn.
This company has been criticised for offensive advertising. In 2020 the Advertising Standards Bureau upheld complaints about internet ads by this company on the grounds that they breached advertising codes. The ads were subsequently discontinued or modified.
Involved in sale of tobacco-related products as a non-core business.
Be Slavery Free's 2024 Chocolate Scorecard rates all the major chocolate companies on their labour and environmental policies and practices. Companies were asked questions in six areas: traceability and transparency; living income; child labor; deforestation and climate; agroforestry; and pesticides. This retailer received an orange rating: "Needs improvement in policy and practice".
Named and shamed in the 2023 CHOICE Shonky Awards for "cashing in during a cost-of-living crisis". Woolworths posted a $1.62 billion profit in a year when Australians are facing soaring cost of living pressures.
Yellow rating in Greenpeace Canned Tuna Guide. "Woolworths' private labels took 8th place this year. Woolworths have made good commitments in the past, but it needs to back these up with a commitment to transparency. Woolworths should provide more evidence to verify the traceability of their tuna and other sustainability and ethical sourcing commitments. Not all of its private label tuna cans are labelled with the specific catch method. Woolworths is also the only major retailer continuing to stock Greenseas, the last brand still using destructive FADs. We look forward to seeing Woolworths do better next year." [Listed under Information due to age of report]
In Dec 2006 the Federal Court of Australia ordered Woolworths to pay $7 million plus legal fees, for entering into and giving effect to illegal anticompetitive agreements with small business liquor licence applicants. In his judgment Justice Allsop described Woolworths' purpose in entering into the agreements as aimed at preventing the entry of new competitors into local retail packaged takeaway liquor markets so as to protect Woolworths' liquor businesses.[noted as Information due to age of court order]
Source: ACCC (2006)
On 14 April 2014, the Federal Court of Australia found supermarket giant Woolworths breached an undertaking on fuel shopper dockets, but that its rival Coles did not break the agreement. Woolworths had breached the agreement for the first three months of 2014, when it offered discounts of up to eight cents a litre.
Source: ACCC (2014)
Independent testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth found potentially harmful nanoparticles of titanium dioxide (TiO2) and silica (SiO2) in a range of food products including products by this company. The silica and titanium dioxide in all 14 food products tested contained a high proportion of nanoparticles that have not been tested, labelled or approved for consumption in Australia. Furthermore, peer reviewed studies have raised health serious health concerns regarding the use of these nanoparticles in food.
Source: FOE (2015)
In Jan 2016 Woolworths was ordered to pay over $11 million in damages to private property developer North East Solution, after it ditched a deal for the construction of a Masters hardware store. The Supreme Court of Victoria ruled that Woolworths failed to act in good faith with North East Solution after the retail giant unfairly terminated the agreement it had with the Victorian developer to build a Masters store in the regional Victorian city of Bendigo, and lease the site for 12 years.
On 5 Feb 2016, the Federal Court of Australia ordered Woolworths to pay penalties of over $3 million for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law relating to safety issues with house brand products sold in Woolworths supermarkets, Big W and Masters stores.
Source: ACCC (2016)
In 2021 Woolworths paid $44.5 million to settle a class action with shareholders, who may have bought shares at an inflated price because of improper company reporting.
In June 2016 the Federal Court ordered Woolworths to pay total penalties of $9 million in laundry detergent cartel proceedings brought by the ACCC. Woolworths was knowingly concerned in an anti-competitive understanding which they admitted was reached between laundry detergent manufacturers.
Source: ACCC (2016)
In June 2016 the Fair Work Ombudsman issued a report criticising Woolworths with a finding that some trolley collectors working at its supermarkets were being paid as little as $10 an hour. 79% of sites visited had indications of some form of non-compliance with workplace laws, with 49% of sites presenting serious issues.
This company received a score of 17.1/100 in the Newsweek Green Ranking 2017, which ranks the world's largest publicly traded companies on eight indicators covering energy, greenhouse gases, water, waste, fines and penalties, linking executive pay to sustainability targets, board-level committee oversight of environmental issues and third-party audits. Ranking methodology by Corporate Knights and HIP Investor.
According to the democracyforsale.net website, this company donated $178,505 to Australia's major political parties between 2012 and 2018, as disclosed to the Australian Electoral Commision (AEC).
This company sells Rainforest Alliance certified products. However this only represents a fraction of this company's total private label products sales. Rainforest Alliance certification has been dubbed 'Fairtrade light' by critics, as it offers producers no minimum price for their crop, and guarantees a minimum of just 30% of the product is certified.
This company has agreed to phase out the use of microbeads in their own-brand products by 2017. These particles are not retained by wastewater treatment so end up in the ocean. While microbeads aren't thought to be a health hazard to consumers, they are a threat to the marine environment.
This company manufactures or distributes products that are certified organic under the Australian Certified Organic label.
Source: ACO (2022)
Some, but not necessarily all, of this company's products are palm oil free, or contain segregated certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). For more details, follow the link to see Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia's list of products which manufacturers have told them are palm oil free or contain segregated certified sustainable palm oil.
As listed on the We Mean Business website, this company has committed to the following climate action initiatives: adopt a science-based emissions reduction target; commit to 100% renewable power.
This company sells Fairtrade Certified coffee. However this only represents a fraction of their total coffee sales.
This company is listed by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) as a Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation holder. The citation is designed to encourage, recognise and promote active commitment to achieving gender equality in Australian workplaces.
Source: WGEA (2022)
All Woolworths brand chicken products use humanely farmed RSPCA Approved chicken. These farms raise their birds in an enriched barn environment. Chickens enjoy space to move, good lighting and can perch, dustbathe and forage.
This company is listed on the RSPCA Australia website as 'cage-free and proud', signifying a commitment to source 100% cage-free eggs by 2025. Essentially cage-free means barn laid, which is better than cage eggs, but still much worse than free-range or organic eggs when it comes to animal welfare.
The United Nations Global Compact asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of 10 values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment, and anti-corruption. However it's non-binding nature has been widely criticised, and many signatory corporations continue to violate the Compact's values.
In March 2014 Woolworths published the names and addresses of 52 factories in Bangladesh, which Woolworths Limited's retail brands (including BIG W) source from.
This company has signed up to the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, which governs certain conduct by grocery retailers and wholesalers in their dealings with suppliers. It has rules relating to grocery supply agreements, payments, termination of agreements, dispute resolution and a range of other matters.
Source: ACCC (2015)
This company is a member of Bonsucro - Better Sugar Cane Initiative, a global non-profit, multi-stakeholder organisation fostering the sustainability of the sugarcane sector through its leading metric-based certification scheme and its support for continuous improvement for members.
Between 2015 and 2018 this company paid $2.3 billion tax on a total income of $149 billion, earning the number 9 spot on Michael West's Top 40 Tax Payers 2020. West calculated which of Australia's largest companies have paid the most tax using three years of tax transparency data published by the Australian Tax Office.
From 2018 Woolworths is partnering with WWF Australia to further improve sustainable fisheries and seafood sourcing. WWF Australia is providing technical and strategic advice to guide Woolworths' seafood sustainability efforts. This includes assessing the ecological sustainability of Woolworth's seafood supply chain across Woolworths Own Brand seafood products, as well as all seafood products sold at the seafood counter in Woolworths stores. Woolworths is committed to improving tracking and labelling processes to ensure that all seafood products sold in their stores are traceable from source to sale.
The Material Change Index (MCI) is a voluntary benchmark that tracks the apparel and textiles sector's progress toward more sustainable materials sourcing (cotton, polyester, nylon, manmade cellulosics, wool, down and leather), as well as alignment with global efforts like the Sustainable Development Goals and the transition to a circular economy. This company was rated "Maturing", the second highest performance band.
This company has sustainability claims on its website, including sustainability reports. Environmental claims cover animal welfare, sustainable seafood, GMOs, responding to climate change, sustainable forestry products and sustainable tea, coffee and chocolate.
This company is a member of the amfori Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), an industry-driven movement that aims to monitor and assess workplace standards across the global supply chain. Participating companies are expected to follow a code of conduct which has 11 principles including no bonded labour, no child labour, fair renumeration, decent working hours and ethical business behavior.
This company is a member of the Australian chapter of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, the main food industry initiative supporting the development of sustainable agriculture worldwide. Created by Nestle, Unilever and Danone in 2002, the SAI Platform is a non-profit organization to facilitate sharing, at precompetitive level, of knowledge and initiatives to support the development and implementation of sustainable agriculture practices involving the different stakeholders of the food chain.
The 2024 WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard evaluates the progress and performance of 285 major retailers and manufacturer companies, focusing on actions companies have taken to ensure their own palm oil supply chain is sustainable and free of deforestation, natural ecosystem conversion, and human rights abuse. This company is rated 'middle of the pack' with a score of 14.7 out of a possible total of 24.
The 2023 Gender Benchmark ranks 112 companies from the apparel and food and agriculture sectors on their efforts to drive gender equality and women's empowerment across their entire value chain. Companies are assessed on governance and strategy, representation, compensation and benefits, health and well-being, violence and harassment, and marketplace and community. This company ranked #15/112, with a total score of 37.8%. The average score was 23% and the highest score was 55%.
The Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge (Transparency Pledge) helps demonstrate apparel and footwear companies' commitment towards greater transparency in their manufacturing supply chain. Transparency of a company's manufacturing supply chain better enables a company to collaborate with civil society in identifying, assessing, and avoiding actual or potential adverse human rights impacts. This is a critical step that strengthens a company's human rights due diligence. This company has published limited supplier factory information, and falls well short of the Pledge standard.

Company Details

Type:
Public company
Founded:
1924
Revenue:
57 billion AUD (2018)
Employees:
202,000 (2018)
Subsidiaries:
Woolworths New Zealand Ltd
Supermarkets
Progressive Enterprises was bought by Woolworths in 2005 and changed its name to Woolworths New Zealand in 2020. Owns and operates over 180 Countdown supermarkets in New Zealand, and is also the franchisor of the Super Value and FreshChoice supermarkets.
Big W
Department stores
The first BIG W branded standalone store opened its doors in 1976 in Tamworth. Today there are 176 stores around Australia.
Beak & Johnston Pty Ltd (23% owned)
Meats, ribs, soups and sauces supplier
Established in 1986. Provides private-label meat and convenience foods for Woolworths, as well as supplying restaurants and selling their own branded goods. Acquired NZ based organic soup maker Pitango in 2013, and the Ready Chef and Pasta Master ready meal brands from General Mills in 2020. Woolworths owns a 23% stake.
Pitango Pty Ltd
Fresh meal manufacturer
Pitango make packaged organic fresh meals in New Zealand. Their products are for sale in Australia, NZ, Hong Kong and Canada. Acquired by Gourmet Food Holdings in 2008, who sold it to Beak & Johnson in March 2013.
E-com (Aus) Pty Ltd (80% owned)
E-commerce
MyDeal in an online marketplace founded by Australian businessman Sean Senvirtne in 2011. Woolworths bought 80% of the company in 2022, with the founder retaining 20%.

Contact Details

Address:
1 Woolworths Way, Bella Vista, NSW, 2153, Australia
Phone:
02 8885 0000
Website:
www.woolworthsgroup.com.au

Products / Brands

Woolworths
Apollo Dog Food
Armada Party & Picnic Needs
Azure Tissues
Baxters Pet Food (chilled)
Baxters Dog Food
Bell Farms Frozen Vegies/Chips
Chevron Batteries
Clean Stain Removal & Prewash
Confidere Incontinence Needs
Essentials House Brands
Evamay Feminine Hygiene
Farmers' Own Milk
Hillview Cheese
Homebrand House Brands
La Gina Pasta Sauce
La Gina Canned Vegies/Beans
Little One's Baby Wipes
Little One's Nappies
Macro Health Foods
Macro House Brands
★ some products certified organic
Select House Brands
Shine Dishwashing Detergent
Smitten Cat Food
Strike Toilet Cleaners
Strike Window & Glass Cleaners
Strike Floor Cleaners
Strike Multi-Purpose Cleaners
Thomas Dux Cheese
Titan Paper Towels
Vevelle Toilet Paper
Voeu House Brands
Woolworths Supermarkets
Woolworths Cheese
Woolworths House Brands
Your Majesty Cat Food
Big W Beak & Johnston (23% owned)
Beak & Sons Cooking Sauce
Pasta Master Fresh Pasta
Ready Chef Ready Meals
Ready Chef Fresh Pasta
Simmone Logue Ready Meals
Simmone Logue Pies & Pasties
Strength Meals Co Ready Meals
Pitango (23% owned)
Artisano Ready Meals
Pitango Ready Meals
★ certified organic
MyDeal (80% owned)
MyDeal E-commerce