The cattle industry is known to be the biggest cause of deforestation globally and it has now come to light that Tesco has driven this problem through its beef sourcing.
In a report published today, we exposed that Tesco’s tinned beef supply came from illegal farms that destroy the Amazon and occupy Indigenous Peoples’ land. Tesco’s supplier JBS, the world’s largest beef company, still refuses to tackle the problem despite committing to stop buying cattle from deforested land, following a 2009 campaign by Greenpeace.
A Tesco spokesperson told journalists writing up this story yesterday that they are committed to tackling rainforest deforestation, and have now stopped sourcing any canned beef products from JBS.
However, when we met with Tesco in April we told them everything we knew about their connection to JBS and they made no mention at the time of having taken any action to cut ties with them and we found cans on their shelves following this April meeting.
If what Tesco spokespeople are saying is true, and they have indeed decided to cut ties with JBS, then that is fantastic news for the Amazon. But we have yet to see confirmation of this communication to JBS. Tesco needs to clarify its position to restore public confidence and prove that it is serious about tackling deforestation
Our report follows a campaign in 2009 which led to the main beef and leather producers in Brazil committing to ending their role in deforestation. While there has been some progress on behalf of some of the other main cattle suppliers, in the past two and a half years, JBS hasn’t even got off the starting blocks.
To add to this, the Brazilian government has done little to address the problem. Despite the Brazilian government being a shareholder with a 30% stake in the company, JBS continues to violate labour and environmental legislation.
JBS needs to stop driving deforestation and we’d love to see Tesco taking the bull by the horns too. Tesco need to publicly state when they cancelled contracts with JBS and what conditions would have to be fulfilled before Tesco would choose JBS as a supplier again.