Tesco is a large UK supermarket chain with a declared commitment to curb deforestation. The environmental group Mighty Earth has managed to link Tesco’s Simply Chicken Tenders to Amazonian rainforest deforestation.
They charted the supply chain of soya, which was grown on cleared forest, from a farm in Brazil. The rainforest had been burnt to the ground over an area of 560 Wembley football pitches last September according to this environmental group as reported in The Times today Thursday, April 13th 2023.
The soya was used to feed chickens reared in Britain and sold in Tesco supermarkets. Tesco said:
We take any accusation of deforestation and conversion occurring anywhere within our supply chain extremely seriously and we immediately asked Cargill for clarification on the matter and to remove the identified farm from their supply chain until a full investigation can be carried out.
Cargill ships soya from the town of Claudia in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. Cargill is a US company with a grain silo in the city of Sinop. It is taken from there to the port of Santarem in the neighbouring state of Para.
The soya is then shipped from there to Liverpool, UK where Cargill owns an animal feed crushing facility.
The soya feed is delivered across the UK. It is delivered to chicken farms run by Avara Foods, which is owned by Cargill. And Avara is Tesco’s largest supplier of fresh chicken.
A Cargill spokesman said:
Cargill is unwavering in its commitment to end deforestation from its South American soya supply chain in the shortest time possible. In May 2021 we suspended our supplier relationship with the farm in question.
Once the farm proved compliance, it was reinstated and currently is not on any embargoed list in Brazil. Based on the new allegations, in accordance with our grievance process we have initiated an additional investigation of its 2022 operations and if we find any violations of our policies and commitments, the supplier will be immediately blocked from our supply chain, as expected in our supplier code of conduct.
A spokesperson for Avara said:
We have purchased only soya that is certified as deforestation and conversion-free since 2019 and this is currently certified, under a mass balance system, to sub-national level. Clearly, the challenge is that there are still non-certified farms growing soya in high-risk areas and a demand for their produce.
Comment: reading between the lines of these defensive statements, it’s clear to me that Mighty Earth’s research is accurate and we can only hope that the farming question is no longer permitted to supply soya to Cargill.
Animals on deforestation under Pres Bolsonaro hit a high in 2021 because this former president encouraged deforestation in order to build up businesses. And he turned a blind eye to illegal deforestation.
So, despite all these checks and balances as referred to in the statements above, deforestation still takes place at an enormous rate and has done for many, many years.
Mighty Earth traced the link mentioned through field investigations, interviews and satellite images. They estimated that at least 220,000 trees were lost. It always amazes me that they simply burn these trees because they must have a very high value in terms of timber supply to the west. Not that I want the trees to be cut down but at least their commercial value would have been realised.