Supermarkets’ Meat and Dairy Still Linked to Banned Deforestation in Brazil 

Read the full report:


Press Release
Miles Grant, [email protected], + 1 703-864-9599 (m)

July 11, 2022 – Major supermarket chains Tesco, Carrefour, Aldi, M&S, Lidl and Sainsbury’s risk selling meat and dairy products connected to companies driving vast deforestation in Brazil just months after its own industry task force released a Roadmap that called unequivocally on member companies to cease such purchases.

In response to the October 2021 announcement on banning purchases linked to deforestation by the Retail Soy Group (representing supermarkets Ahold Delhaize, Aldi South, Aldi North, Co-op (UK), Co-op Switzerland, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Migros, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose & Partners, and Woolworth’s Group- Australia), Mighty Earth undertook an intensive analysis of the companies’ adherence to the key steps and commitments outlined in their own zero-deforestation Roadmap. The intent of the analysis was to provide the supermarkets with the information they needed to adhere to their own company commitments to act on climate change and end the destruction of native ecosystems.

Mighty Earth’s new report "Promises, Promises" found over 27,000 hectares of recent deforestation on soy plantations in just one critical ecosystem – the Brazilian Cerrado – subject to the ban on purchases. Critically, the deforestation occurred after August 2020, the cut-off date adopted in the supermarkets’ Roadmap. Nine members of the Retail Soy Group – Ahold Delhaize, Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Migros, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Woolworths – and other retailers such as Carrefour explicitly adopted policies not to buy soy, meat or dairy linked to companies connected to post-2020 deforestation.

However, while the supermarkets accepted Mighty Earth’s alarming new evidence, to date they have all refused to adhere to their own commitments by shifting business away from those meat industry companies linked to deforestation.

In its explanation of its reasoning for declining to act on the Roadmap that it had authored as part of the responsible working group, a spokesperson for Aldi Süd wrote to Mighty Earth to say that despite the new evidence, “Our approach is to communicate the aligned ask and expectations of many actors in the supply chain to the [soy] traders and engage with them on a basis of trust instead of excluding them or publicly shaming them.”

“Aldi claiming to trust the very companies that were just exposed breaking their own Roadmap pledges is the height of either dishonesty or naivete or both,” said Alex Wijeratna, Senior Director for Mighty Earth. “Enough with the weasel words. We’re talking about ecocide here.”

“The ecosystem destruction we found in the Cerrado connected to the supermarkets is just a fraction of what they’re responsible for,” said Wijeratna. “We know these supermarkets also have supply chain links to extensive ecosystem destruction in Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, and the United States’ Great Plains as well.

Brazil’s Cerrado is the world’s most biodiverse savannah and wooded grassland and is the global hotspot for meat-driven deforestation. Animal agriculture is the world’s largest driver of deforestation, wildlife extinction, and displacement of Indigenous peoples – and causes more climate pollution than all the cars, trucks, ships, and planes in the world combined.

“The Cerrado is the new Amazon in terms of rampant deforestation linked to the meat industry. Supermarkets like Tesco, Carrefour, Adli and Lidl should adhere to their own Roadmap and drop known forest destroyers immediately,” Wijeratna said.

Mighty Earth’s report "Promises, Promises" found five major animal feed traders Bunge, Cargill, COFCO, LDC and ALZ Grãos continued to buy soy from local Brazilian suppliers and mega conglomerates who had cleared and deforested at least 27,000 hectares on ten farms in the Cerrado since after August 2020 cut-off. This is an area larger than the city of Edinburgh in Scotland, or half the size of Chicago.

Based on satellite imagery analysis, other key findings from Mighty Earth’s report include:

  • Each of the five major soy traders has commercial relationships either directly with the farms engaged in deforestation, or with the parent groups (including mega-conglomerates such as BrasilAgro, SLC Agrícola and Condomínio Agrícola Estrondo).
  • The scale of the destruction is vast. The most severe case of deforestation identified occurred within Condomínio Agrícola Estrondo in Bahía; research found more than 15,000 hectares were cleared after the 2020 cut-off date. Of this, more than 100 hectares were likely illegal, in what should have been the farm’s protected Legal Reserve.
  • Many other cases were significant as well. BrasilAgro’s Fazenda Serra Grande in Piauí cleared more than 1,180 hectares of vegetation – equivalent to 1,652 football fields - in a single month. SLC Agrícola farm Fazenda Parnaíba in Maranhão cleared 668 hectares –equivalent to 935 football fields – of vegetation in six months.
  • Ongoing deforestation was also found on farms owned by suppliers featured in Mighty Earth’s previously published Rapid Response deforestation monitoring reports; including SLC Agrícola, Estreito Agropecuária, Grupo Mizote and Grupo Tomazini. Major soy traders Bunge, Cargill, COFCO, LDC and ALZ Grãos continue to buy from one or more of these local suppliers, although Mighty Earth publicly raised the alarm about deforestation on their farms more than a year ago.

“We were excited when the supermarkets finally moved beyond ineffectually asking the meat industry to stop deforestation, and finally promised to do something about it. But even in the face of clear evidence of vast bulldozing of these ecosystems, they seem paralyzed as Brazil burns. Given their meat’s links to vast deforestation, customers should be totally appalled by what they’re selling,” Wijeratna said. “It’s time for the supermarkets to actually do something - other than greenwashing their meat.”

The Retail Soy Group Roadmap was very clear about what action its customers should take: “This roadmap presents the principles and practices that are urgently needed within the retail sector to play their part in halting deforestation and conversion thereby addressing the global climate crisis and preserving the Earth’s vital ecosystems, such as the Amazon, the Great Plains, and the Cerrado,” said the accompanying press release.

About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth ( is a global advocacy organization working to defend a living planet.  Our goal is to protect half of Earth for Nature and secure a climate that allows life to flourish.  We are obsessed with impact and aspire to be the most effective environmental advocacy organization in the world. Our team has achieved transformative change by persuading leading industries to dramatically reduce deforestation and  climate pollution throughout their global supply chains in palm oil, rubber, cocoa, and animal feed, while improving livelihoods for Indigenous and local communities across the tropics, and mobilizing billions of dollars for clean energy.

Contact: Miles Grant, [email protected], + 1 703-864-9599 (m)

Statement on Cargill’s “Scaling Back” Russian Business

March 11, 2022 – Cargill announced today that it is “scaling back” its business in Russia and stopping investment there, as pressure from Ukrainian organizations, Mighty Earth, and allies mounted on the company.

Cargill’s announcement today that it is “scaling back” its Russian business activities and stopping investment is a “step in the right direction.” Still, Cargill now needs to pull out entirely, according to Ukrainian and global conservation leaders.

"War in Ukraine is a tragedy not only for people but also for the environment. Cargill must continue to take a hard look at the impact of its continuing to send tax revenue to support the Russian invasion,” said Yehor Hrynyk of the Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group.

Over 300 Western businesses ranging from ExxonMobil to McDonald’s have pulled out of Russia to show their opposition to the Putin regime’s brutal invasion. Cargill has suspended operations in Ukraine but has resisted calls to suspend its Russian operations entirely. 

“This is a good step forward for Cargill in re-evaluating its investments in Russia. Anyone who does business with and pays taxes to Vladimir Putin’s government is fueling Russia’s war machine,” said Glenn Hurowitz, founder and CEO of Mighty Earth. “We hope this move will spur a broader reexamination of Cargill’s role in the world, spurring the company to move away from being a business that supports authoritarian governments, drives the destruction of ecosystems, and makes an outsized contribution to climate change.”

“The disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of the Ukrainian breadbasket highlights the need for companies and countries to scale up investments in plant-based and cultivated proteins dramatically, so we’re not so dependent on fragile international supply chains for animal feed,” Hurowitz said.

Cargill competitor LDC announced on March 4 that it was suspending operations in Russia, but ADM and Bunge have also refused to pull out of Russia. However, companies exposed to these traders and Cargill in their supply chains, such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Yum! Brands and PepsiCo have announced they are pulling out. 

Privately-owned Cargill’s unethical business practices worldwide have long been in the spotlight. In 2019, Mighty Earth’s report, The Worst Company in the World, detailed the company’s history, including its undermining of the embargo on the Soviet Union in response to the invasion of Afghanistan.

About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth ( is a global advocacy organization working to defend a living planet.  Our goal is to protect half of Earth for Nature and secure a climate that allows life to flourish.  We are obsessed with impact and aspire to be the most effective environmental advocacy organization in the world. Our team has achieved transformative change by persuading leading industries to dramatically reduce deforestation and  climate pollution throughout their global supply chains in palm oil, rubber, cocoa, and animal feed while improving livelihoods for Indigenous and local communities across the tropics.

MEDIA RELEASE: Mighty Earth reaction to the UK Soy Manifesto commitment


Contact: Joel Finkelstein

1-202-285-0113 | [email protected]

UK Contact: Robin Willoughby, 07595763925. [email protected]


On Tuesday 9th November, members of the UK food industry, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, ASDA and KFC will sign and launch the UK Soy Manifesto, which commits that all physical shipments of soy to the UK are deforestation and conversion free.

Statement of Mighty Earth UK Director Robin Willoughby:

“The message from some of the UK’s largest food businesses to the agribusiness traders working in Brazil, Argentina and other critical areas of biodiversity is clear. No to industrial animal feed that has been produced by bulldozing tropical forests and savannah land and be genuinely transparent about where you source from. 

“But British supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s could have gone much further. This announcement fails to match an agreement on a gold standard that these same companies committed to only a month ago. 

“After missing a 10-year target to tackle deforestation by 2020, supermarkets have essentially extended the deadline by another three and a half years. In this time, savannah land more than double the size of Greater London will have been cleared from the Cerrado biome in Brazil due to the expansion of soy production.

“Worryingly, the UK Soy Manifesto also relies on self-reporting from the very same agribusiness traders that are driving the destruction of forests in the first place.

“To be credible, the signatories to the Soy Manifesto need to put in place clauses in supplier contracts immediately to ensure deforestation and conversion-free soy, rather than punt this down the road. 

“Group-level responsibility means that they should also drop suppliers and agribusiness traders such as Cargill and Bunge that are systematically linked to deforestation or fail to be fully transparency about where they source their soy for industrial animal feed.”

Specific Provisions of the Commitment

  • Through the UK Soy Manifesto, signatories agree to commit to a cut-off date of January 2020, meaning that signatures will not accept any soy from deforested land – either legal or illegal – after that date. This will apply to both direct and embedded soy to the UK market in their products. 
  • They will put in place a publicly available action plan to implement the UK Soy Manifesto by 2025, cascade the commitment into direct supplier contracts and commit to ensure that they enact commercial consequences for non-compliance. They will publicly report against progress annually.
  • Signatories have given themselves three and a half years to put these measures in place. However, many could be in place within as little as six months. In this time, forest and savannah land equal to double the size of Greater London will have been cleared from deforestation hotspots such as the Cerrado in Brazil at present rates [annual deforestation rates attributed to soy expansion are estimated to reach 110,000 hectares a year in the Cerrado alone].
  • The commitment addresses single supply chains from high-risk biomes into the UK market. This ignores a recommendation of the gold-standard ‘Retail Soy Group Roadmap’ for corporate policy to apply to suppliers at their group level – irrespective of the specific company supply chain. 
  • The UK Soy Manifesto states that transparency is a requirement for the UK market and that signatories will aim to improve transparency and traceability. However, the detail on transparency measures largely rely on the same agri-business traders that are driving deforestation in the first place. The transparency and traceability requirements fall far short of those outlined in more the more ambitious RSG roadmap – which states that traceability should be ensured by traders to a level that compliance can be ascertained. 
  • For success, the UK Soy Manifesto should have an immediate implementation period and follow the ‘group-level accountability principle’ meaning that signatories will not source from companies credibly linked to deforestation. Full traceability should be a condition in supplier contracts and systems should be established to monitor non-compliance that do not rely on self-reporting from traders.

# # #

The UK Soy Manifesto to end meat-driven deforestation: does it fall short?

The UK Soy Manifesto to end meat-driven deforestation: does it fall short?  

Today, UK food industry titans, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, McDonalds, Nando’s, Nestle and KFC will launch the UK Soy Manifesto, which aims to ensure that all physical shipments of soy to the UK are ‘deforestation and conversion-free’.  

This represents an attempt by leading consumer facing companies to break the link between destructive deforestation and land clearance in Brazil and Argentina with meat sales in the UK. Soy is mainly used as animal feed and millions of hectares of deforestation are attributed to the expansion in soy production.  

So what does the new UK Soy Manifesto mean? And does this represent a breakthrough, or another ‘greenwash’ environmental initiative launched at COP26 in Glasgow with stated ambition but little chance of implementation?  

In many ways, the UK Soy Manifesto represents progress. The 27 UK signatories have agreed to a cut-off date (of January 2020) after which they will not accept any soy from deforested land in their products (either directly or embedded).  

They have also agreed to cascade this requirement to their supplier contracts; to engage commercial consequences for non-compliance and publicly report against progress. These are all measures that several organisations, including Mighty Earth, have been calling for.  

This approach sends a clear signal to giant agribusiness traders that are driving deforestation in Brazil, such as Cargill and Bunge (who have been linked to 66,000 and 60,000 hectares of land clearance in Brazil respectively over the past two years alone), that UK companies will not accept the continued destruction of the Amazon, Cerrado or Pantanal biomes for industrial animal feed and meat.  

In terms of the market signal, the numbers are large enough to matter. The signatories represent some 12,000 individual supermarket stores in the UK and £130 billion in turnover: 1,300 McDonald’s and 900 KFC restaurants, alone.  

But despite the stated ambition, the UK Soy Manifesto represents both a missed opportunity and an own goal.  

Only a month ago, many of the same retailers that have signed this UK Soy Manifesto, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons agreed to a new Roadmap through the Retail Soy Group that highlights what good looks like in setting policy and practice in this area (see table below).  

Our analysis shows that the new UK Soy Manifesto lacks many of the key elements that could make it transformative for soy in comparison to industry best practice.  

How does it measure up? The UK Soy Manifesto compared with industry best practice through the Retail Soy Group Roadmap.

UK Soy Manifesto Table

Industry best practice is for policy to apply to a ‘group level’ from supplier companies. The intent behind this is that such a measure should prevent a company that drives deforestation from continuing to do this with impunity while supplying so-called ‘clean soy’ to another part of the market (such as the UK). Despite this, the UK Soy Manifesto only applies to soy coming into the UK market from individual companies.  

The UK Soy Manifesto also uses weak language on ensuring supplier commitments; does not embed full traceability in supplier contracts and appears to use self-reporting from the very traders that are driving deforestation in the first place to verify compliance.  

Finally, the implementation period of no later than 2025 gives companies an extended runway of three and a half years to put in place measures, many of which could be put in place within six months or even sooner in many cases.  

During this period, some 330,000 hectares of land – twice the size of Greater London - could have been cleared from the Cerrado savannah in Brazil for expanded soy production at current rates.  

UK industry, environmental organisations, and Indigenous communities that rely on forest and savannah lands in South America desperately need this initiative to work.  

Therefore, we suggest four measures or approaches that could help to ensure that the UK Soy Manifesto becomes effective and transformative in implementation.  

1) Shorten the implementation period to align with the Retail Soy Group Roadmap: for retailers, these measures should be put in place immediately with full disclosure on which proportion of suppliers have signed up to these contractual clauses by 2023 at the latest.  

2) Apply group level accountability principles: this means that in practice, traders such as Cargill and Bunge that are credibly driving systematic deforestation should be excluded from the supply chain unless they agree to apply a cut-off date, stringent monitoring and other control measures. This will help the initiative to move towards a ‘clean supplier’ principle.  

3) Monitoring should be supported by independent systems to support verification and enforcement – such as the Mighty Earth Trader Tracker, and traceability should be a requirement for full access to the UK market – embedded in supplier c contracts.  

4) Finally, as Mighty Earth has noted in other publications – a credible soy policy or strategy also requires targets to be set on meat reduction and a move to alternative proteins. This should be embedded in policy – rather than in aspirational statements. 

These four measures can take the Manifesto from one based on high-level goals towards effective delivery and industry transformation.  

Déforestation : Les ONG tirent la sonnette d’alarme à l’aube d’une nouvelle saison record d’incendies au Brésil.

Déforestation : Les ONG tirent la sonnette d’alarme à l’aube d’une nouvelle saison record d’incendies au Brésil 

Au premier semestre 2021, la déforestation en Amazonie a augmenté de 17 % par rapport au premier semestre 2020. Alors que la saison sèche s’ouvre au Brésil, le nombre d’incendies dépasse déjà celui de l’année dernière à la même période. Ces chiffres laissent présager de nouveaux records d'incendies au Brésil cet été. Face à ce désastre environnemental, climatique et social, la France reste passive. Pourtant, nos importations de produits issus de la déforestation contribuent directement à la destruction des écosystèmes exceptionnels de ces régions : l'Amazonie et le Cerrado sont détruits pour laisser place aux pâturages pour l'élevage de bœufs et aux champs de soja que la France importe massivement pour nourrir ses animaux d’élevage.

L’année dernière a déjà été marquée par des incendies spectaculaires qui ont ravagé plus de 310 000 km2 au Brésil, avec la caution du Président brésilien Jair Bolsonaro. Pour la troisième année consécutive, la forêt aura perdu environ 10 000 km2 de sa surface, soit l'équivalent de la superficie de la région Île-de-France ! Le rythme de destruction est tel que les scientifiques nous alertent sur le point de non-retour que pourrait atteindre la forêt amazonienne : si aucune action immédiate n’est entreprise pour inverser la trajectoire, cette immense forêt tropicale se transformera irréversiblement en savane, menant à la destruction irréversible de cet écosystème essentiel à la survie de l'humanité.

Les conséquences de la déforestation ne se limitent pas aux frontières des régions touchées : la bonne santé de ces écosystèmes comportant une biodiversité unique est vitale au maintien de l’équilibre climatique planétaire. Aujourd’hui, l’Amazonie brésilienne ne parvient plus à assurer son rôle de poumon de la planète et vient d’atteindre un point de bascule inquiétant. Selon une étude scientifique publiée dans Nature Climate Change, elle émet désormais davantage de carbone qu’elle ne contribue à en séquestrer. Si rien n’est fait pour inverser la trajectoire, c’est toute l’Amazonie qui pourrait basculer et devenir émettrice nette de carbone, mettant en danger l’équilibre mondial.

A l’aube d’une saison de nouveau marquée par les incendies dévastateurs, il y a une urgence absolue à agir immédiatement. En 2019, Emmanuel Macron reconnaissait la responsabilité de la France et s’engageait à agir pour freiner la destruction de l’Amazonie. Deux ans après, le constat est amer : la cadence de nos importations issues de la déforestation n’a pas ralenti et la destruction de l’Amazonie s’est accélérée.

Si la France s’est dotée d’une Stratégie nationale de lutte contre la déforestation importée en novembre 2018, celle-ci est restée lettre morte, faute d’ambition et de volonté politiques. L’action de la France demeurera inefficace tant que les mesures ne seront pas contraignantes et reposeront sur le bon-vouloir des entreprises. Pour garantir que le soja qu’elle importe n’est pas issu de la déforestation, la France doit prendre des mesures pour contraindre les importateurs à garantir et prouver que les produits qu’ils mettent sur le marché français ne sont pas liés à la déforestation ou à la destruction d’écosystèmes naturels.

De même, le gouvernement ne peut continuer à négocier des accords qui risqueraient d'accroître la déforestation en Amérique du Sud. Selon l’expertise scientifique mandatée par le gouvernement, l’entrée en vigueur de l’accord de libre-échange entre l’Union européenne et le Mercosur augmenterait significativement la déforestation dans les pays du Mercosur, jusqu’à 25 % par an pendant six ans. La France doit bloquer l'adoption de cet accord et de tout instrument présentant le risque de contribuer à l'accélération de la déforestation.

En septembre 2021, les regards seront rivés sur la France qui accueillera à Marseille le Congrès mondial de la nature de l’Union Internationale pour la Conservation de la Nature (UICN). Avant la fin de l’année, la Commission européenne proposera un projet de législation pour lutter contre la déforestation. La France aura la responsabilité de faire aboutir un texte ambitieux puisqu’elle assurera la présidence de l’Union européenne au premier semestre 2022. Cette loi devra contraindre les entreprises à garantir que les produits qu’elles mettent sur le marché européen ne sont ni liés à la destruction des forêts, savanes et prairies du monde, ni à des violations de droits humains. C’est seulement à ces conditions que l’on pourra inverser la trajectoire destructrice de la déforestation en Amérique du Sud et espérer préserver l’équilibre environnemental et climatique.


Liste des signataires 

Véronique Andrieux, Directrice générale du WWF France ; Clotilde Bato, Présidente de Notre Affaire à Tous ; Jonathan Guyot, Co-fondateur de all4trees ; Jean-François Julliard, Directeur de Greenpeace France ; Charlotte Meyrueis, Directrice de Coeur de Forêt ; Xavier Morin, Directeur de Canopée ; Nico Muzi, Directeur Europe de Mighty Earth ; Boris Patentreger, Co-fondateur d’Envol Vert ; Arnaud Schwartz, Président de France Nature Environnement ; Evrard Wendenbaum, Fondateur de Naturevolution.

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.

Mighty Earth’s new monitoring data reveals deforestation connected to soy trader and meatpackers in Brazil more than doubled over two-year period

Mighty Earth’s new monitoring data reveals deforestation connected to soy trader and meatpackers in Brazil more than doubled over two-year period

The largest soy traders and meatpackers in Brazil have failed on their promises to end deforestation in their supply chains and continue to do business with suppliers that are destroying rainforests and savanna. 

review of the past two years of monitoring data (March 2019-March 2021) demonstrates that deforestation detected in companies’ supply chains more than doubled in the second year of monitoring compared to the firstHowever, despite this escalating crisis, only one case of deforestation has ever been resolved by these companies out of the 235 recorded by our monitoring.  

Thupdated tracker includes new data from Mighty Earth’s three latest Rapid Response reportsreleased in partnership with Aidenvironment. The new data builds on the original version of the tracker and policy brief released in December 2020 to encompass a full two years of monitoring (March 2019-March 2021.) 

Key Findings: 

  • The tracker update reveals that major soy traders and meatpackers are linked to more than 314,000 hectares deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado over the past two years (March 2019 to March 2021) -- an area larger than twice the size of London. Yet, out of 235 cases of deforestation that Mighty Earth has sent to companies, only one has ever been resolved. 
  • The data reveals a pattern of escalating amounts of deforestation carried out by soy trader and meatpacker suppliers. On average, deforestation connected to supply chains of soy traders and meatpackers more than doubled over a two-year period of monitoring. This pattern mirrors increasing rates of deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes overall during this time periodi. 
  • JBS was the worst-scoring meatpacker and company overall. It has been linked to 100,000 hectares of clearance the past two years – an area larger than all of Berlin. 75 percent of this clearance occurred in protected areas, making it potentially illegal under Brazilian law.  
  • Bunge and Cargill are the worst performing soy traders, despite their recent sustainability reports touting their nearly deforestation-free supply chainsBunge is linked to almost 60,000 hectares of clearance – more than a third of which took place in protected areas. Meanwhile, Cargill is linked to more than 66,000 hectares of clearance -- the largest amount out of any other soy trader.  
  • While no company performs well in the tracker, some are performing better than others, such as Amaggi and Louis Dreyfus out of the soy traders. 

Many US supermarkets continue to buy from Bunge, Cargill, and/or JBS despite these numbers – including Costco, Walmart, and Kroger. Bunge, Cargill, and JBS are also major suppliers to European supermarkets, including Tesco, EDEKA, Carrefour and Albert Heijn (Ahold Delhaize.)

In addition to the worst-scorer JBS above, the other two meatpackers included in the tracker, Marfrig and Minerva, are also poor performers, having been connected to more than 50,000 hectares of clearance eachMost of this clearance is potentially illegal, having occurred in protected areas. Much of the deforestation included in the meatpackers’ scores is related to their indirect suppliers, which meatpackers currently cannot fully trace and therefore cannot monitor for deforestation. 

Although Mighty Earth sends all instances of deforestation detected in our monitoring system to meatpackers and soy traders on a monthly basisthey very rarely take action on the suppliers responsible for the destruction. Only one case of deforestation has ever been resolved by a company, out of 235 cases to date that Mighty Earth sent to companies in the past two years 

One example of this inaction is meatpackers continuing to source from Agropecuária Santa Bárbara Xinguara (AgroSB a company that has direct and indirect links to JBS, Marfrig, and Minerva. Mighty Earth and Aidenvironment have caught AgroSB deforesting or setting fires on six separate occasions during the past two yearsAgroSB has also been accused of exploiting workers and money laundering.ii The clearance carried out by AgroSB now totals more than 2,800 hectares, more than 2,200 of which occurred in protected areas. The clearance could have been stopped long ago, but inaction from meatpackers allows business to continue as usual.  

Similarly, Cargill and Bunge continue to source from SLC Agrícola despite repeated deforestation cases connecting the supplier to more than 11,000 hectares of clearance over our two years of monitoring. Furthermore, SLC Agrícola is associated with $200 million land grabbing corruption schemeiii. While SLC Agrícola committed to stop deforesting in 2020, it admitted it still had more clearing to do before implementing the commitment and has actively opposed a deforestation cut-off date in the Cerradoiv. It also recently bought 8 new properties through its acquisition of Terra Santa Agro, one of which overlaps with more than 18,000 hectares of Indigenous land in Mato Grossov 

AgroSB and SLC Agrícola are examples of how the agricultural groups and property owners implicated in deforestation cases are often also connected to land conflicts, labor rights violations, government bribery and environmental crimes, which are further detailed in our Rapid Response reports. 

Beyond the issue of deforestation, many cases added to the tracker involve the concerning use of fire. About half of the deforestation cases from Rapid Response reports added to the latest tracker update also involved fire incidences. Often, producers use fire to clear debris from bulldozed trees after they’ve deforested. Fires set by agricultural companies can often spread out of control, resulting in the destruction of land and air quality of Indigenous and local communitiesvi. The worst performers in the tracker tended to be linked to more fire incidences. For instance, 63 percent of new cases connected to Bunge included in the updated tracker involved fire events on the property. Meanwhile, 55 percent of new cases connected to JBS involved fires. 

Ultimately, no company featured in the tracker can claim a clean supply chainAll companies in the tracker lack full traceability of their direct and/or indirect supply chain and therefore are limited in their validation and investigation of our reports of deforestation. Even the best performer in the tracker, soy trader Amaggi, still only earns a total of 56 points out of 100 points and is connected to more than 5,000 hectares of clearance. 

The Solution 

The buyers and financiers of the soy traders and meatpackers must take significant action that includes contractual penalties if significantly more progress on their zero-deforestation commitments is not made by supplying traders and meatpackersThey should ensure that the soy traders and meatpackers in their supply chain: 

1) Agree to a cut-off date for deforestation in the Cerrado with a 2020 cut-off date 

2) Adopt zero deforestation and zero conversion commitments for all sourcing areas, including those outside of Brazil. 

2) Adopt a suspend-then-engage approach to suppliers with widespread conversion, either legal or illegal 

3) Develop a publicly available joint-monitoring system that includes transparent traceability to farm-level for all suppliers 

4) Commit to the advancement of corporate and government policies that protect Indigenous land and secure workers’ rights 

Want to learn more about our methodology? 

*Data reflects company responses as of April 15 2021 

Want to take action? 

Visit our petition page  

Investigation reveals: three of the biggest US grocery chains sell Brazilian beef produced by a controversial meat company linked to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest

Exclusive: US chains Walmart, Costco and Kroger selling Brazilian beef produced by JBS linked to destruction of Brazilian rainforest

A Guardian investigation uncovers that Walmart, Costco Wholesale, and Kroger are selling beef from the most notorious deforester in Brazil, despite corruption and worse.

“Supermarkets need to go beyond their sustainability rhetoric by setting strict requirements for their suppliers, banning deforestation, monitoring their suppliers for compliance, and dropping contracts with the worst offenders like JBS,” said Mighty Earth.

Read the full story here.

Sign our petition to tell Costco: stop making American consumers complicit in buying the deforestation of the Amazon and get deforestation off our plates.

For more information on how cattle and soy companies like JBS and Cargill are linked to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado, please visit our Soy and Cattle Deforestation Tracker.

Mighty Earth Statement on the attack against Brazilian investigative journalists

Mighty Earth strongly condemns the series of online attacks perpetrated over the last days against the investigative journalism NGO, Repórter Brasil, that caused its website to crash and were followed by a demand to suppress investigative reports.

“Repórter Brasil does invaluable to work shine a light on slavery, human rights abuses and deforestation. These criminal attempts to intimidate and silence them should not be tolerated. We stand in solidarity with them and urge the authorities to carry out a robust investigation into the attacks and hold those responsible accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Glenn Hurowitz, Mighty Earth’s CEO said today. “The world depends on journalism to protect the environment. Investigative journalists like Repórter Brasil are true heroes, and should not just be protected, but also celebrated."


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

L’un des principaux importateurs de soja en France renonce à lutter contre la déforestation importée

19 juin 2019 – Alors que Cargill, l’un des principaux importateurs de soja en France, vient de publier son nouveau plan d’action soja, force est de constater que le compte n’y est pas. Les entreprises françaises qui utilisent du soja commercialisé par Cargill dans leur chaîne d’approvisionnement devront en tirer les conséquences.

Le 25 mars dernier, Mighty Earth, France Nature Environnement et Sherpa publiaient un rapport sur le devoir de vigilance des entreprises françaises face à la déforestation causée par la culture du soja en Amérique du Sud, comme Bigard, le Groupe Bertrand/Quick, et E. Leclerc, parmi d’autres. Ce rapport relevait l’absence de prise en compte de ce risque par l’immense majorité des entreprises du secteur agro-alimentaire interpellées, alors même que le soja est utilisé massivement en France dans l’alimentation du bétail, notamment le porc et les volailles.

Les entreprises françaises peuvent-elles encore se fournir auprès de Cargill ? 

Cargill, l’un des principaux importateurs de soja en France, a publié la semaine dernière son nouveau plan d’action soja (en anglais). Pour Glenn Hurowitz, directeur de Mighty Earth  :

« Cargill bricole des solutions médiocres alors que l'Amérique du Sud est en train d’être réduite en cendres. Si l’on regarde de plus près ce plan d’action, il apparait que le seul véritable engagement pris par l’entreprise est de respecter la loi, comme si elle pouvait choisir ne pas la respecter... Tant que Cargill ne cessera pas de s’approvisionner auprès de fournisseurs impliqués dans la destruction d’écosystèmes, les autres compagnies devraient réfléchir mûrement avant de se fournir auprès de Cargill. »

Ce plan d’action est également un échec pour le PDG de Cargill, David MacLennan, qui s'était engagé à plusieurs reprises à mettre fin à la déforestation, et qui a aujourd’hui échoué à mettre en œuvre ses engagements.

Si nos organisations accueillent favorablement la volonté affichée par Cargill d’investir dans la préservation des forêts, l’expérience montre que les résultats de tels investissements, réalisés en l'absence de politiques strictes de conservation, ne sont pas à la hauteur de la crise actuelle. Ils ne sauraient remplacer de véritables mesures de prévention des atteintes à l’environnement et aux droits humains, et une mise en œuvre effective de ces mesures.

Les entreprises françaises doivent s’engager à lutter contre la déforestation importée

Au regard de la faiblesse de ce plan d’action, nos organisations appellent les entreprises françaises concernées à cesser l’approvisionnement direct ou indirect en matières premières agricoles dont l’origine ne peut être garantie libre de violations des droits humains ou abus environnementaux. Ces dernières doivent à tout prix investir dans la traçabilité sur 100% des volumes de soja utilisés dans leur chaîne d’approvisionnement et s’engager immédiatement et concrètement pour un moratoire couvrant toutes les forêts d’Amérique latine.

Pour aller plus loin :

Devoir de vigilance et déforestation – Le cas oublié du soja, mars 2019
Quand la déforestation s’invite à notre table – La catastrophe environnementale et humaine qui se cache derrière la viande et les produits laitiers français, mars 2018