Supporting living wages: Interview with Maximilian Iciok, Lidl Stiftung


FLOCERT has supported LIDL Stiftung in the retailer’s steps towards living wages in its banana supply chain. We talked to Maximilian Iciok, Human Rights at Lidl Stiftung, about the living wage verification project and the experiences gained along the way.


We supported LIDL in its project to establish a living wage for the workers in your banana supply chain. Can you tell us what this project is about in a nutshell?  

MI: Since 2022, Lidl has worked with its business partners, producers, FLOCERT, and IDH on developing a process to close its own Living Wage Gap successfully. The process consists of the following steps: Empowerment of producers, capturing the wage data, data verification through FLOCERT audits, and payment of the living wage premium.  The Lidl “Banana Living Wage” project shows that closing the wage gap is challenging but possible.

How did FLOCERT contribute to you reaching your goals for living wages in this project?

MI: You contributed a lot. We didn’t have third-party insights into the plantations before FLOCERT audited them, and FLOCERT developed a method which we used to advance our project. For example, FLOCERT’s auditors were initially requested to collect all the feedback from the plantations. This included the mistakes made by users when filling out the salary matrixes. We didn’t understand why these mistakes were made or where the problem was. FLOCERT collected all the feedback, sampled it and gave us the right push to progress. Without their insights and the interviews, we couldn’t have evolved as we did the last two years. So, it was very impactful.

I think it was also a journey for FLOCERT to learn about the verification process and develop outcomes like reports on living wage audits.

We are satisfied with the results we got in the last two years and are working on developing the process further. While the last two years were about verifying data and the gap, in 2024, FLOCERT will also go to the plantations and verify the payouts, so we will now move into the actual verification of living wage claims. In a triangle partnership with IDH, we are enhancing the audits further this year.

How satisfied are you with FLOCERT’s Living Wage verification service delivery?

MI: We would recommend working with FLOCERT! It was an excellent experience because FLOCERT was responsive to all our requests, helped us develop the project plan, and listened to all our needs.

It was like a partnership and a journey together, and we learned how to conduct the living wage project as partners. We also heard from the plantations that the auditors were very welcoming, and they explained the project well. So, even plantations with no experience could do the audit. FLOCERT also went to plantations that were not Fairtrade certified. It is a big plus that an audit company that normally follows a specific kind of audit or certification process is willing to go to other farms that are different from their usual work. So it’s nice that FLOCERT could extend its offer.


Formal procedure of confirmation, by which an authorised person or agency assesses and verifies the attributes, quality, qualification, status of …
Supply chain
Business entities involved in the supply and purchase of materials, goods or services from raw materials to the final product. In contrast to a chain …
An agricultural company that structurally depends on Hired Labour. It is a Single Estate that might comprise single or multiple production sites, but …
Fairtrade refers to all or any part of the activities of Fairtrade International eV, FLOCERT, Fairtrade Producer Networks, National Fairtrade …
The term Producer refers to any type of producer set-up as found in the Fairtrade Standards: Hired Labour, Small-Scale Producer Organisations, …
A person qualified to carry out audits on behalf of a certification body.
Learn more about the audits carried out by FLOCERT auditors.
The independent Fairtrade Certification body, offering Fairtrade Certification services to customers in more than 120 countries. FLOCERT GmbH, a …
Field Workers, artisans or other Workers, including migrant, temporary, seasonal, sub-contracted and permanent Workers, and all other Hired Labour …
An evidence-gathering process that aims to assess the compliance of an organisation and/or a product with certain standards. There are three types of …
About the author
Maximilian Iciok, Human Rights at Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG, Germany