Supply Chain Characteristics that Impact Traceability

Traceability Takeaways

  • Strawberry farming is labor-intensive and seasonal migrant workers make up the majority of the workforce. Child labor and forced labor risks are present in the harvesting and packing nodes, which take place at strawberry farms in multiple geographies.
  • Batches or lots of strawberries are often traceable for food quality assurance purposes; ensuring that existing traceability systems reach back to the farm level can enable the identification of farms of origin. Paired with supply chain mapping and a robust risk screening protocol, this information could be leveraged to identify areas that are at heightened risk for labor rights abuses. These areas can then be prioritized for more in-depth assessments of human rights and labor conditions at specific farms or producers. These in-depth assessments should include on-the-ground interviews with workers and their families, with a focus on the experience of migrant workers where relevant, including their experiences with third-party labor brokers or recruiters. The Responsible Sourcing Tool’s resource on Conducting Migrant Worker Interviews offers more information on how to carry out these types of interviews.
  • Due to the perishable nature of fresh strawberries, the harvesting, handling, and transport of fresh strawberries need to be done in a quick manner. As such, the downstream value chain is often relatively short, making tracking lots or batches relatively straightforward.

Nature of Labor Rights Risk/Vulnerable Workers

Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by U.S. Government

Child Labor cited by U.S. Government

Risk of Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by other source

Risk of Child Labor cited by other source

Documented presence of migrant workers

Documented presence of other vulnerable workers

Documented presence or significant likelihood of third-party labor recruiters

Features of Production and Supply Chain

Large numbers of dispersed, unorganized, or informal small producers or other worksites

Multiple points of aggregation, co-mingling, and/or transformation across supply chain

Complex, opaque supply chains and/or lack of vertical integration

High degree of flexibility in procurement practices of downstream entities

  • Large and medium companies often manage the import, export, and transportation of strawberries while outsourcing strawberry farming to smaller producers.
  • Small farmers may sell strawberries through cooperatives or traders, creating different points of aggregation. In comparison to other highly complex raw material supply chains, though, strawberry supply chains are relatively straightforward due to the perishable nature of strawberries.

Distribution of Labor Risk in Various Production Areas

Scale or nature of risk is present across multiple tiers or nodes of supply chain (including in associated downstream or upstream goods)

Scale or nature of risk varies significantly based on geographic area of production.

Scale or nature of risk is strongly associated with certain types of suppliers/entities.

  • Strawberry harvesting is labor-intensive and typically conducted by hand, regardless of geography.

Linked Upstream and Downstream Risks

Risk in Nodes in Strawberry Production

Strawberry harvesting is usually done manually, as mechanical harvesters are slower and less cost-effective.11Fischer-Daly, Matthew and Anner, Mark. Strawberry Global Supply Chains in Mexico. Center for Global Workers’ Rights, 2021, If strawberries are sold for fresh consumption, they are harvested, cleaned, packed into containers, and placed in refrigerated trucks; these processes take place on the day of harvest and at the farm on which the strawberries were grown.12Fischer-Daly, Matthew and Anner, Mark. Strawberry Global Supply Chains in Mexico. Center for Global Workers’ Rights, 2021, The fresh strawberries are then moved directly or via a producer cooperative or trader to retailers, wholesalers, and/or institutional buyers on a daily basis. The labor-intensive nature of hand cultivation and harvesting suggests that labor rights risks may be highest at the farm-level.

Strawberries intended for industrial purposes are treated in the same manner as fresh strawberries during harvest but are typically frozen after the cleaning process. The sales of frozen strawberries to processors may take place all year round.13Engelseth, Per et al. Modelling Fresh Strawberry Supply “From-Farm-to-Fork” as a Complex Adaptive Network, 2011,

Cultivation and harvesting

Handling and packing


Wholesale, Retail (institutional buyers, processers)

Associated Downstream Goods and Consumer Sectors

Food and Beverage

Strawberries are sold fresh for personal consumption in the food and beverage sector.

Strawberries are a common ingredient in jams, juices and other beverages, and other processed foods.

Top Global Countries

  1. Spain14List of exporters for the selected product in 2021. Product: 081010 Fresh strawberries. ITC Trade Map,
  2. Mexico
  3. United States of America
  4. Netherlands
  5. Belgium
  6. Greece
  7. Egypt
  8. Morocco
  9. South Korea
  10. Italy
  1. China15Crops and livestock products. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2021.
  2. United States of America
  3. Turkey
  4. Mexico
  5. Egypt
  6. Spain
  7. Russia
  8. Brazil
  9. South Korea
  10. Poland


Examples & Resources: Traceability Efforts Associated With Strawberries