Tesco demands new rules for deforestation-free supply chains

Tesco has called on the government to introduce a new requirement for all food companies to ensure their food is deforestation-free and set national targets for meat reduction.

The UK’s largest grocer said that as part of its National Food Strategy, the government should mandate companies to introduce effective due diligence across supply chains to make sure the food sold in the UK does not contribute to the destruction of precious habitats like the Brazilian rainforest.

It added that meat reduction targets need to be set by government for the whole food system taking into account environment, health and economic recovery and affordability.

The intervention from Tesco came in the same week that Greenpeace called on the retailer to halve the amount of meat it sells by 2025 and cut ties with suppliers linked to deforestation in the Amazon. The campaign group said Tesco currently buys meat from two companies, Moy Park and Tulip, which are controlled by a South American meat processing giant linked to deforestation.

In a new report published this week, Greenpeace claimed JBS and its network of subsidiaries have been repeatedly linked to suppliers found to be engaging in illegal deforestation in the region and operating illegally on protected indigenous lands.

Tesco said Moy Park and Tulip meet its environment and zero deforestation standards, adding that “penalising suppliers who are playing their part and stand ready to do more cannot be in the interests of this agenda”. It noted that the two companies also supply Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. They are also thought to supply a number of major foodservice companies.

Tesco no longer sells any Brazilian meat due to concerns about deforestation. It said it was on track to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020 through certification and has set an additional target for all soymeal in its UK supply chain to come from verified zero deforestation areas by 2025. Greenpeace, however, accused the retailer of “kicking the can down the road”.

The campaign group said that despite long-standing commitments to remove deforestation from their supply chains, food retailers and foodservice operators are still buying meat reared on South American soya.

It is calling on supermarkets and fast food chains “to join with government and civil society in a concerted effort to move our society beyond its dependence on industrial meat and towards a revolution in food production and diet that will improve individual health outcomes while securing the future of the planet – its climate, its wildlife and its people”.

Greenpeace has also called on Tesco to halve the amount of meat it sells by 2025. Tesco said Greenpeace’s own research shows that 74% of shoppers don’t want supermarkets to remove meat from stores but said it would “support a UK target to transition to less meat and dairy by 2030”.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said: “….we recognise the whole country needs to reduce meat and dairy consumption. We will continue to lead with suppliers and through innovation, education and new choices.”

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