Principles and policies


S Group's responsibility principles

S Group is a network of companies with the purpose of producing services and benefits for the members of the regional cooperatives, in other words the co-op members. A cooperative form of business and being owned by customers are a natural foundation for S Group's responsible operations. Daily operations must meet the expectations set for S Group companies by co-op members and other stakeholders.

Financial and social responsibility, as well as the environmental perspective, are taken into account in S Group's daily decision-making. Responsible operations are based on international and national legislation, as well as various sector-specific agreements, declarations and guidelines. However, in a changing operating environment, responsibility is, above all, based on continuing improvement of one's own operations.

Responsible operations mean observing the changes taking place in the operating environment, engaging in dialogue, continuous learning, and developing. Our responsibility stems from cooperation with customers, personnel, suppliers of goods and services, as well as other stakeholders.

In S Group, responsibility is a goal shared by all of us and part of our daily work. Responsibility viewpoints with varying emphasis are included in all choices and decisions made in the Group. The responsibility principles below are based on S Group's values. The responsibility principles are implemented according to S Group's management system.

We exist for customers

  • We reward co-op members with the best Bonuses.

  • We offer competitive prices, high-quality products and an extensive network of services.

  • We are committed to honest and friendly customer service and ethical conduct.

  • We make it possible for our customers to make responsible choices by offering safe products and services that are both ethically and environmentally sustainable.

We take responsibility for people and the environment

  • We promote diversity and equality in the workplace.

  • We offer an encouraging, healthy and safe working environment.

  • We improve our employees' competence and promote high-quality supervisory work.

  • We improve the energy efficiency of our operations and increase the use of renewable energy.

  • We consider the costs and environmental impact of the entire life cycle of our purchases and investments.

  • We decrease the amount of waste generated in our operations.

We constantly renew our operations

  • We take feedback from customers and other stakeholders into account when developing our range of products and services.

  • We improve the availability of services through a comprehensive regional network of services.

  • We use the best available technology and competence in developing our network of services.

We operate in a cost-effective way

  • We improve the cost efficiency of S Group's business operations through responsible operations.

  • We measure our responsibility performance using economic, social and environmental indicators.

  • We utilise the results of these actions in developing regional services and promoting well-being.

Every employee of S Group is committed to implementing its responsibility principles. Good governance at S Group includes active and open internal and external communication.


SOK Corporation's Code of Conduct

SOK Corporation is part of the S Group's network of companies, the purpose of which is to produce services and benefits for the members of the regional cooperatives, or co-op members. Our daily operations must meet the expectations concerning ethics set for SOK Corporation by various stakeholders.

SOK Corporation's management and supervisors are responsible for thoroughly inducting personnel on the Code of Conduct. Complying with the Code is a duty of every employee of SOK Corporation.

The Code of Conduct is supplemented by S Group's responsibility principles and various operating policies. These supplementary rules must be in line with the Code of Conduct.

1. We listen to customers

Because we are a cooperative form of business, our operations focus on the benefit of our owners, that is, the co-op members. We develop our operations by listening to the customer. We are accountable for the products and services we sell to our customers and help our customers to solve any problems arising from such products or services.

2. We operate openly and with integrity

We keep the promises we make to each other, our customers and other stakeholders. We engage in open dialogue with both internal and external stakeholders. We communicate our operations transparently and openly.

3. We respect and value each other

Our operations are based on equality. Our behaviour towards each other is professional and fair – we do not discriminate against anyone. We value each other's work. We respect each other's individuality and the diversity of our work communities.

4. We compete in a fair way

We treat our partners equally and fairly. We adhere to good retail practices. We emphasise our own strengths, not our competitors' weaknesses.  We collaborate with industry associations and other communities in the development of our industry within the framework allowed by competition legislation.

5. We are incorruptible

We do not accept or give bribes. Gifts of minimal value and hospitality inherently associated with our business operations are acceptable. We always act in the best interests of our company and do not let our personal or related party interests influence our decision-making.

6. We comply with good corporate governance

We operate according to good governance at all levels of our organisation. Our operating methods and governance are transparent.  In our operations, we comply with good retail practices, the agreements we have signed and the operating guidelines we have accepted.

7. We respect human rights

We are committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights. We promote them in our own operations and also expect our partners to do so.

8. We operate responsibly

We systematically develop the responsibility of our operations, listening to our stakeholders. We seek partners whose operations are in harmony with our values and principles and who are prepared to develop their operations.

9. We take care of the environment

We recognise and monitor the environmental impact of our operations. We work to prevent any adverse effects and to implement best practices in terms of the environment.


Palm oil

SOK has been a member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) since 2011. RSPO's criteria for palm oil plantations include conservation of biodiversity and improvement of operations by ethical and ecological standards.

Overall, 97 per cent of palm oil used in S Group's private label foodstuffs and oil used in deep-frying in restaurants is RSPO-certified, and 72 per cent of it is physical Certified Palm Oil. S Group is committed to using only physical Certified Palm Oil in its private label food products and oil used in deep-frying in restaurants by 2021.


S Group's fish product procurement adheres to S Group's fish policy based on the species endangerment classification, WWF's seafood guide, the recommendations of the Marine Conservation Society, as well as research data from the Natural Resources Institute Finland. The policy applies to S Group's centralised procurement and purchasing by the cooperatives in both S Group's grocery stores and restaurants.

The basic principle is to not accept in the product range fish from fish stocks that are endangered, threatened or subject to overfishing, and the origin of fish must always be known. Undersized or protected fish are also not accepted in the product range.

Furthermore, S Group does not approve of the use of environmentally harmful fishing methods, such as fishing with dynamite or toxic substances. Separate criteria concerning the fishing areas or methods have been set for many fish species, including prohibition of bottom trawling, or prohibition of using drift nets in tuna fishing.

The fish policy is updated every two years. The most recent update was carried out in 2016.

Fish species are divided into three categories:

  1. Species that can be accepted in the product range without specific criteria (the green list)
  2. Species that can be accepted in the product range once certain criteria concerning the fishing area or methods are met (the yellow list)
  3. Highly threatened, threatened, endangered or overfished species are not accepted in the product range unless they are MSC-certified.

Please see the species-specific classification.

Upon request, you can obtain the yellow list criteria from

You can also learn more from following sources: 

Sandblasting of jeans

S Group does not permit the use of the dangerous sandblasting method in the manufacturing of denim products sold under S Group's private labels. Manual sandblasting of textiles with insufficient protective equipment is hazardous.

Origin labels of products originating from Israel

A product being sold in S Group is labelled as originating from Israel only if it was produced or grown in the area of Israel defined by the UN.

Responsibility of the supply chain

S Group works continuously to ensure the responsibility of the supply chain. Cooperation with suppliers is essential for retail. One of the most important methods is factory audits. Among others, the audits are conducted to determine the working conditions at factories.

Other methods include traceability and responsibility surveys and visits to supplier facilities. The visits provide first-hand information about the production conditions.

For a list of factories, click here.

Requirements for sustainable procurement

S Group works continuously to ensure the sustainability of the supply chain. Cooperation with suppliers is essential for retail. For suppliers, we have prepared the SOK requirements for sustainable procurement.

S Group is a member of the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), and we require, through procurement agreements, that all of our suppliers commit to the BSCI principles (or similar principles). We also require that our suppliers implement these principles in their procurement chain and conduct a self-assessment of the fulfilment of these principles in their activities and procurement chain.

In addition, we require that our suppliers are audited by a third party when their production is located in a country with a high risk classification, any of their subcontractor's production is located in such a country or the main raw material of their product comes from such a country, or when they import or market products that are manufactured in a country with a high risk classification. The aim of plant audits is to verify the fulfilment of principles in practice, i.e. to audit the conditions in which employees work.

Through procurement agreements, suppliers also commit to product group-specific quality requirements.

Other means to ensure sustainable procurement include separate traceability and sustainability surveys and supplier visits. The visits provide first-hand information about production conditions.

* In addition to BSCI audits, S Group accepts the following audit models: Sedex Members Ethical Trading Audit (SMETA), Initiative Clause Sociale (ICS), Fair Labour Association (FLA), Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI), Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (SIZA), GLOBALG.A.P (GRASP), Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, UTZ

Radical transparency for supply chains

During 2018, we complemented our traditional auditing work by developing a new type of research model that examines the root causes. Its purpose is to identify typical and current human rights issues and their root causes in our key production regions or potential sourcing areas. This enables us to identify measures and procedures to minimise typical challenges. The studies will always be conducted by a third-party partner familiar with the region in question. The tool has been developed in cooperation with non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders.
The first pilot study concerned the supply chain for processed tomatoes during the 2018 harvest season, in the Foggia region of southern Italy in particular. Italy was selected because, rather than being a traditional high-risk country, it is an EU country with recent reports of poor working conditions for employees with immigrant backgrounds. The study was conducted by the non-governmental organisation Oxfam, which produced a report independently based on the study.
In the production of processed tomatoes, key human rights issues are related to primary production – that is, tomato farms. These farms have a high number of employees with immigrant backgrounds, who are in a very vulnerable position in the labour market. They are often recruited by illegal gangmasters who deduct considerable agency and transport fees from their salaries. As a result of this, the salaries paid to the employees are small, and they cannot afford appropriate living conditions. The farms also have serious safety issues. Our next step is to seek to improve the employees' working conditions in Italy by discussing our findings with our suppliers and addressing the migrant workers' situation in our impact work at the EU level.