Delegates arriving for Tesco’s Annual General Meeting were greeted by activists holding giant letters spelling out the words ‘FOREST CRIME’ 10 metres wide at Tesco’s Welwyn Garden City headquarters this morning.
Photos here: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MDHUP9CEI
Thousands of personal, passionate and urgent pleas from Tesco customers for the supermarket to end its part in deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and other areas of Brazil were handwritten on the 1.5 metre high letters. Two activists also read messages through loud hailers outside the meeting. In total 10,000 messages – many threatening a boycott of the supermarket if action wasn’t taken – were received by Greenpeace and delivered to Tesco as part of the peaceful direct action.  A further 250,000 people have signed a petition calling on Tesco to drop forest destroyers.
A message from Brazilian Indigenous Leader, Sonia Guajajara, was also written on one of the giant letters and delivered alongside those from customers. Guajajara has joined hundreds of Indigenous protestors outside Brazil’s Congress in Brasília over the last two weeks objecting to a bill that, if approved, would open up Indigenous Peoples’ lands to agriculture as well as mining and major infrastructure projects.
Her message to Tesco reads:
“Tesco, you have a choice. As the Amazon burns, will you continue to do business with forest destroyers, fanning the flames of the fires? Or will you take your share of the responsibility and stop funding companies whose greed is destroying the forest and threatening our culture, our land and our lives?”
This follows her video message to Tesco last September for which she received no direct reply from the supermarket.
Overnight, stencilled messages in chalk that read “Tesco meat = deforestation” appeared at entrances to Tesco stores across the country. Over 200 stores have received this stencilled message so far, marking just the beginning of plans to visit every Tesco store in the UK. Stores will be targeted with a series of peaceful direct actions over the coming months calling out Tesco’s role in deforestation and fires across Brazil to cut through the supermarket’s greenwash.
Elena Polisano, senior forests campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:
“When Tesco sells you a British chicken, it won’t mention the forest crime that took place to produce it. Tesco’s chicken supplier is owned by a company notorious for destroying the Amazon rainforest. And Tesco’s chicken is reared on soya that’s driving deforestation and fires across Brazil.
“Indigenous Peoples are facing an assault on their rights as forests like the Amazon are being slashed and deliberately burned for industrial meat production. It’s killing wildlife, the risk of future pandemics is increasing and it’s playing havoc with the climate.
“10,000 shoppers have sent personal pleas for Tesco to drop forest destroyers from its supply chain – many threatening a boycott if it doesn’t. Tesco can’t afford to ignore them and we won’t stop campaigning until Tesco stops greenwashing and takes action.”
Despite Tesco claiming to have met its deforestation targets, its meat is not deforestation-free. It buys British chicken and pork from suppliers owned by notorious rainforest-destroyer, JBS. JBS recently admitted it would accept deforestation in its supply chain for another 14 years. And Tesco continues to sell more soya-fed, factory-farmed meat than any other UK supermarket. It has already failed to keep its promise of zero-deforestation by 2020 and its plans to buy soya ‘only from deforestation-free areas’ by 2025 are meaningless given the complete collapse in 2019 of talks involving traders like Cargill to agree protection for whole areas from soya.
At least 118,000 hectares of the Amazon rainforest were lost to deforestation in May according to data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) – an area twice the size of the Isle of Man. Official data also showed fires across Brazil for the month of May reached a 14-year high.
Brazil is now experiencing its worst drought in 91 years. This adds to the likelihood that any fires this year will spread uncontrolled and be even more dangerous and destructive than previous years, threatening people’s lives and exacerbating the Covid-19 health crisis that has already killed half a million Brazilians.
While Greenpeace activists head to Tesco HQ to deliver customers’ pleas, members of the public are being invited to take part in the protest from home by calling Tesco’s head office to demand it stops greenwashing and drops forest destroyers from its supply chain.
People who would like to take action at their local Tesco store can also apply for a free action pack at act.gp/tesco-pack to receive a whole host of resources to help them get Tesco’s attention.
Notes to editors:
 Messages from Tesco customers include:
“I used to shop at Tesco every week. It’s convenient and now stocks a great range of vegan products. However, due to Tesco’s complicity in the destruction of the rainforest I have changed where I shop… as one of the largest UK supermarkets it’s up to you to set a standard and do what’s right.”
“I shall boycott Tesco until I am sure they have ceased selling meat which fuels destruction of the Amazon forests.”
“This is a problem for everyone, especially young people who are having their futures compromised. No rainforests, no humans. That is a simple equation I think everybody understands. So do the right thing and stop this madness. If you don’t, I will boycott Tesco and advise friends, family and anyone else to do the same.”
“I love my local Tesco store. Their friendly service is often the only social contact I have in my day. But it grieves me that Tesco are still buying meat from people who are ruthlessly destroying the Amazon rainforest and putting the future of our planet at risk. Please listen to the science and support the struggle to protect nature and save the planet for our grandchildren.”
“Having shopped at Tesco weekly for years, I will now boycott your stores until you stop supporting the deforestation companies.”
“I used to work for Tesco. I think people value companies that make positive environmental changes, and prioritise these over profits. Tesco could do more to protect the environment for future generations, and if they make proactive meaningful changes people will support them.”