Meat Impacts

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

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Meat Scorecard: Yum! Brands


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