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The Ecologist Film Unit (EFU) is a UK-based not-for-profit news organisation dedicated to investigative reporting on environmental issues, with a particular focus on food and farming, wildlife and consumer affairs. We produce original investigative content for broadcast, print and online output, and work with external media outlets and partners to maximise exposure.

The hidden cost of cheap fruit

Our partner outfit Ecostorm has been undercover with Channel 4 News investigating conditions for some those picking and packing supermarket fruit at a major facility in Kent. What we found was shocking and has provoked an immediate outcry. Our undercover reporter experienced first hand the highly-pressured environment at the Mansfields packhouse at Chartham, with managers breathing down workers’ necks to meet strict targets.

Some of them live in appalling conditions that they say are supplied by the agency they work for – and that some say aren’t fit for animals. The packhouse supplies fruit to top retailers, and after our evidence was broadcast Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer have all told Channel 4 News they have launched investigations. And one supermarket, Aldi, has suspended its orders. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority has also launched an investigation into our findings.

You can watch part 1 of our exclusive investigation, and read the background here. Part 2 of the story follows tonight (Tuesday, 20th October). The investigation follows our reporting earlier this year which highlighted the plight of migrants harvesting salad on farms in Spain, much of destined for UK supermarkets, and earlier investigations into the hard labour behind Italy’s orange trade.

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