Meat Impacts

Tesco's meat problem

Tesco's meat problem

Britain’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco sells a lot of meat – hundreds of millions of chickens a year alone. Three weeks ago, Tesco produced a new set of requirements for its meat suppliers to try and address the massive environmental consequences of those meat sales, starting with the soy-based animal feed used to fatten chicken, pigs and cows for its own-brand meat and dairy offer.

The long overdue update has been produced following campaign efforts from Mighty Earth and Greenpeace UK – with consumers calling on the company to drop the worst forest destroyers in its supply chain.

Meat has outsized environmental consequences. Raising meat produces more climate pollution, fouls more drinking water, and requires more land for livestock and feed globally than all other food crops combined - for a fraction of the nutritional value.

But the single most acute environmental consequence is the bulldozing and burning of millions of acres of rainforest and other ecosystems to make way for industrial animal feed plantations and cattle ranches.

There has been more land in the Amazon and Cerrado Biomes of Brazil bulldozed for soy plantations than the entire land mass of Israel or Slovenia in just 11 years.

Unless companies like Tesco take strict action, it could get worse very quickly: proposed legislation in front of the Brazilian legislature, which if passed, puts at least 19.6 million hectares of public land in the Amazon at risk from large agribusiness companies trying to grab land to make more industrial feed and meat.

Within this context, the new requirements for Tesco meat suppliers sourcing from South America to have a strict no-deforestation, no-conversion and no-human rights abuse policy – based on a ‘cut-off date’, a biome-wide agreement and improved transparency in sourcing represents an improvement over the status quo.

However, unless the details are strengthened, Tesco shoppers will still be eating chicken and pork connected to the destruction of the rainforest and tropical savannah in Brazil for some time.

Supplier impunity on deforestation 

Tesco’s policy, in essence, allows agribusinesses that supply animal feed to continue driving deforestation with impunity while supplying the company. In particular:

  • Tesco fails to spell out how or when it will suspend meat suppliers sourcing soy animal feed from companies that drive the destruction of the Amazon and the Cerrado in Brazil, nor how they will exclude traders from their supply chain complicit in deforestation. For example, even with a recent policy commitment to zero deforestation, US agribusiness behemoth Cargill will accept or condone deforestation in its supply chain until at least 2030 – giving industrial meat interests nine years to bulldoze as much land as possible.
  • The scheme allows suppliers to purchase ‘mass balance’ credits or certificates if they are unable to prove that their soy is either from deforestation-free areas or from a ‘gold standard’ certified source of supply. This discredited approach is a ‘get out of jail free’ card because it could inadvertently support deforestation by allowing Tesco suppliers like Cargill to buy soy from recently destroyed forests and savannahs, and then buy credits from land that was cleared some time ago. This type of approach has also been criticised for lacking transparency and undermining traceability.
  • Finally, while the policy pays lip service to the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFI), it fails to advance the principle of ‘group level accountability’ for deforestation into practice. The AFI is currently advancing guidance that bestows responsibility on traders for land conversion that happens on any farms owned by the farmers supplying them, rather than just the farms directly in their supply chain. At present, the Tesco policy allows traders such as Cargill to sell Tesco suppliers certified no-deforestation animal feed, while continuing to buy from farmers that are razing forests in other parts of its supply chain.

A tangible way forward

We have seen whole industries change when they enforce robust policies on suppliers engaged in deforestation, pollution, or human rights abuse.

Many consumer facing companies have adopted strict policies on palm oil, for instance, that simply required suppliers not to engage in deforestation, with no excuses, no credits, and no greenwashing. Those policies were a key driver of a massive environmental success: deforestation for palm oil is down more than 90%.

Until Tesco and other companies adopt similarly strong policies and cut ties with supplier companies that are driving the destruction of Brazil’s forests – such as JBS, Cargill and Bunge, its meat is still going to be driving environmental destruction on an enormous scale.

These policies are simple, clear and affordable: to comply, all producers must do is produce meat and beef on the 1.6 billion acres of previously deforested land instead of expanding on the agricultural frontier.

That should just be the easy first step, instead of something we must fight for. But if Tesco is going to provide truly sustainable protein, it needs to go further:

  1. Help shift consumers to sustainable, plant-based diets. As a leading retailer in the UK, Tesco has a role to play in influencing consumer behaviour towards these diets which begin to tackle the demand-drivers of deforestation.
  2. Support strong forest protections in producer countries, while promoting the use of existing agricultural or degraded land for soy production. Advocacy by Tesco and other supermarkets when forest laws are under threat can help in this regard, as can cutting commercial links with suppliers that support deregulation of forest protections.
  1. Work with others to ensure full transparency and traceability in meat from farm to product; ensure that all soy entering the market is from ‘clean’ suppliers and move forward the principle of ‘group-level responsibility’ for deforestation - meaning that companies cannot deforest in some parts of their operation while selling ‘sustainable soy’ simultaneously to other parts of the market.

While Tesco shows positive intent through its new policy, action in these three areas would prove that the company is serious in tackling the drivers of deforestation, rather than allowing its suppliers to cut down forests on one hand, while reaping the benefits of sustainability certification and credits on the other.



Paris, 17 juin 2021 - Ce matin, une dizaine de militants de l’ONG Canopée se sont rendus dans l’agence BNP Paribas du boulevard Sébastopol à Paris où ils ont déclenché une alarme incendie afin d’alerter sur la responsabilité de la banque dans les feux de forêts au Brésil. (voir video ici).

Cette action fait suite à plusieurs alertes restées sans réponse satisfaisante malgré l’urgence :

  • BNP Paribas a accordé près de 200 millions de dollars de financements liés au risque de déforestation à Cargill et Bunge entre 2015 et 2020 (1).
  • Plus de 60 000 hectares de forêts et d’écosystèmes ont été détruits par chacune de ces deux entreprises en 2019 et 2020 pour cultiver du soja au Brésil (2).
  • BNP Paribas n’a pris aucune mesure concrète et urgente pour couper ses liens avec ces entreprises. En février 2021, BNP a annoncé un objectif vague, et sans plan d’action concret, pour mettre fin à ses soutiens à la déforestation à l’horizon 2025 (3).
  • En mai 2021, la déforestation en Amazonie a augmenté de 41% par rapport à mai 2020. Un nouveau niveau record qui augure du pire pour la saison des incendies qui commence (4).

“C’est parce que BNP Paribas ne semble pas comprendre l’urgence à agir que nous venons tirer la sonnette d’alarme. S’il y avait vraiment le feu dans les agences, est-ce que la banque attendrait 2025 pour éteindre l’incendie?” explique Klervi Le Guenic, chargée de campagne chez Canopée.

BNP fait la sourde oreille. La banque est soumise à la loi sur le devoir de vigilance mais n’a toujours pas intégré des mesures pour réduire son exposition au risque de financer des entreprises dans la déforestation.” ajoute Sylvain Angerand, coordinateur des campagnes chez Canopée.

Près de 140 000 personnes se sont mobilisées pour demander à BNP d’arrêter de financer la déforestation (5). Si dans ses déclarations la banque promeut de grands engagements, ses réponses concrètes ne font en réalité preuve d’aucune ambition. Nous espérons que cette fois-ci, BNP saura user de son leadership à bon escient et renforcer sa politique pour enfin être à la hauteur de l’enjeu.” ajoute Leyla Larbi, chargée de campagne chez SumOfUs.

“BNP Paribas est le premier financeur au monde des activités à risque de déforestation des plus grands traders de soja du Brésil, Cargill et Bunge. Son virage est donc fondamental, mais ne doit être qu’un premier pas vers une transformation nécessaire du secteur financier, qui leur a accordé plus de 2 milliards d’euros entre 2015 et 2020” (6), conclut Nico Muzi, directeur européen chez Mighty Earth.

Contact presse:

Leyla Larbi, Chargée de campagnes, SumOfUs, +33 750 960 130
Klervi Le Guenic, Chargée de campagnes, Canopée, +33 7 52 64 08 54
Nico Muzi, Directeur Européen, Mighty Earth, +32 484 27 87 91


Major Supermarkets in France Commit to Fighting Soy-Driven Deforestation: Our Reaction

Major Supermarkets in France Commit to Fighting Soy-Driven Deforestation: Our Reaction

November 18, 2020

Almost all supermarkets in France – Carrefour, Casino, Auchan, Lidl, Metro, Système U, Mousquetaires and Leclerc – have announced measures to end the use of soy produced on deforested land today. While we welcome this important step, it is insufficient unless the government ensures these commitments are fulfilled and tightens up the rules that apply to all economic players in the supply chain.

To mark two years of the National Strategy to fight Imported Deforestation (Stratégie Nationale de lutte contre la Déforestation Importée, SNDI), seven large retailers have just announced that they are going to include non-deforestation clauses for soy in their suppliers’ contractual conditions. In particular, the supermarkets are demanding that their suppliers stop using soy from recently deforested land in the Cerrado, which is the main region in Brazil being deforested for soy production.

Every year, France imports more than two million tonnes of soy from Brazil for animal feed (poultry, pork, dairy products). Soy consumption in France is responsible for the worst impacts on forests and native ecosystems.

The supermarkets’ announcement is significant but not sufficient, explains Klervi Le Guenic, Canopée’s campaign officer: “The supermarkets’ manifesto sends a very strong market signal, but to go beyond mere words, this voluntary measure needs to be rapidly transformed into consistent action plans. Lidl, Système U and Auchan have already done this; the others now need to pick up on this positive dynamic. We will publish an analysis of the supermarkets’ different commitments soon.

According to Etelle Higonnet, senior campaign director with Mighty Earth: “French supermarkets are finally listening to their customers’ concerns and leading an industry-wide effort to clean up the entire French soy supply chain¹. But a few key companies failed thus far to join the Manifesto. The elephants in the room are soy traders Cargill and Bunge, who have the power to stop importing deforestation-tainted soy. We’re also waiting for soy traders like COFCO and Louis Dreyfus to join, as their deforestation footprint is much lower than Cargill’s and Bunge. If they don’t, French companies should suspend contracts with them as soon as January 1st 2021.”

We are calling on all soy traders, and all businesses that use soy for animal feed, meat and dairy production including restaurants and food companies to sign the manifesto.

A fundamental condition for success is that the government seize these corporate commitments to strengthen the due diligence obligations for all companies. In September 2020, Canopée published a report under the auspices of the Scientific and Technical Council about putting an end to imports of soya that entailed a risk of deforestation². The manifesto we have signed today represents a continuation of this work and a demand for it to be implemented faster, as Sylvain Angerand, co-author of the report, explains: “It has become clear that the national strategy to fight imported deforestation has reached an impasse, due to a lack of resources, significant political trade-offs and over-reliance on voluntary commitments. This manifesto puts the ball firmly in the government’s court: the technical solutions exist, and stakeholders are ready to commit. What is needed now is to build on this dynamic to create a stricter framework for all businesses, particularly those that are subject to the law of due diligence but have not adopted any serious measures whatsoever to fight imported deforestation.”

¹More than 9 out of 10 French people support strong, specific action to fight deforestation.

International Day of Action for the Amazon: Global Community Sets Stage for Climate Week

Today, concerned citizens across six continents – from Hong Kong to Washington and Paris to Pretoria – will take action for the Amazon by protesting the ongoing fires and deforestation. In a show of international solidarity with indigenous leaders, activists around the world are standing up to President Jair Bolsonaro's reckless policies and the international corporations profiting off environmental destruction.

The burning of the Amazon and the darkening of skies have captured the world’s conscience. But while much of the blame for the fires has rightly fallen on President Bolsonaro for directly encouraging the burning of forests and the seizure of Indigenous Peoples’ lands, the incentive for the destruction comes from large-scale international meat and soy animal feed companies like JBS, Marfrig, and Cargill, according to a recent Mighty Earth report.

Additional research from media and advocacy organizations has helped identify a group of 12 companies responsible for the ongoing deforestation and destruction in the Amazon. This “Dirty Dozen” covers the financing of projects causing deforestation, the traders who help create the market for commodities like soy and beef that are linked to deforestation, and the retailers who sell the resulting products to unsuspecting consumers.

As part of the International Day of Action, Mighty Earth and nearly 100 allied groups – including Amazon Watch, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, Extinction Rebellion, Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs, Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Species Coalition, Canopée, Rettet den Regenwald, Danmarks Naturfredningsforening, International Accountability Project, Native Forest Council, Humane League, and others – have sent letters to the CEOs of these 12 companies outlining the steps they must take to end their role in incentivizing destruction of the Amazon and other fragile ecosystems.

Read the letters to Big Finance and Mega Retailers here.

Today’s actions also set the stage for Climate Week in New York City (September 23-29).

“Companies like Cargill, Ahold Delhaize, and others have previously used Climate Week as an opportunity for splashy announcements and feel-good pledges,” Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz said. “But after years of failing to deliver on these promises, their words ring hollow. This Climate Week will mark five years since the signing of the New York Declaration on Forests, and one year left until their original 2020 deadline. The Amazon is on fire, the climate crisis is worsening, and the world cannot afford dithering and excuses any longer. These companies must take decisive action now.”

Background materials

Meat Scorecard: Alberstons

Click to DownloadMeat

Meat Scorecard: Yum! Brands


Click to Download