New Investigation Links One of Germany’s Largest Poultry Producers to Forest Destruction in Latin America

Today, a new report released by Mighty Earth and Robin Wood revealed strong evidence that Rothkötter, one of Germany’s largest poultry producers, is buying soy from two companies – Cargill and Bunge – driving illegal forest destruction in Latin America.

The report, Raubbau für Geflügelfleisch or Germany: Meet your Meat, calls on Rothkötter to remove soy harvested on deforested land from its supply chain. In response, environmentalists have gathered at a feed plant owned by Rothkötter in Lower Saxony, Germany, to protest the company.

Rothkötter is a major poultry supplier, “producing” 3.5 million chicks every week for customers including supermarkets and fast food chains like Lidl, Aldi Sud, and Netto Marken-Discount. It has been estimated that one out of every three chickens consumed in Germany comes from Rothkötter.

Using satellite mapping and vessel and navigation data, our team documented ships traveling from Cargill and Bunge facilities in Amsterdam to Rothkötter’s main feed plant in Eurohafen, Germany. While vessel tracking was unable to distinguish between Cargill and Bunge facilities, both companies are notorious for driving massive deforestation for soy across Latin America. Earlier this year the Brazilian government’s IBAMA environmental enforcement agency caught Cargill and Bunge purchasing soy from areas under embargo due to illegal deforestation.

In January 2018, Mighty Earth and Robin Wood asked key German meat producers, including Rothkötter, whether they purchase soy from Bunge or Cargill and demanded the implementation of supply chain traceability systems. Rothkötter declined to answer the inquiry.

While both Cargill and Bunge have published sustainability policies committing otherwise, their supply chain continues to drive deforestation by resisting efforts to expand deforestation-free production. And they have found willing buyers in Germany, where their soy is used by food and meat processers to feed chickens, pigs and cattle to produce meat, eggs and dairy products sold in German supermarkets and restaurants.

“Rothkötter must take immediate action to remove soy deforestation from the company’s supply chain,” said Mighty Earth Campaign Director Anahita Yousefi. “By associating with Cargill and Bunge, Rothkötter is complicit in forest destruction and human rights violations in Latin America.”

The report pressures Rothkötter’s customers to halt all business relations with the poultry producer until the company commits to only source sustainable soy for animal feed.

“Aldi Süd, Lidl and the parent company of Netto Marken-Discount, Edeka, have all committed to 100 percent sustainable soy feed. As customers of Rothkötter, both their commitment to sustainability and their credibility are at stake,” said Tina Lutz, tropical forest advisor to Robin Wood. “These companies can no longer hide behind their private labels to sell Rothkötter meat.”