The request, from environmental charity Greenpeace, also calls on Tesco to stop buying meat and dairy from companies that have been implicated in destroying the Amazon rainforest.
According to reports, these brands include U.K meat giants Moy Park and Tulip. They are owned by the biggest meat company in the world – JBS – which was linked to illegal deforestation by a recent investigation. The company denies the allegations.
According to Greenpeace, industrial-scale meat production is the biggest driver of deforestation globally because it includes clearing land for beef production and to grow crops like soy for animal feed – but only 15 percent of Britons are aware of this, a recent YouGov poll conducted for Greenpeace revealed.
The poll also showed that more than 50 percent of Brits would consider rejecting meat products linked to deforestation and 25 percent think supermarkets should sell less meat.
Greenpeace added that Tesco ‘promised to end its part in deforestation for commodities like soya by 2020 but in 2018 it quietly changed that goal to 2025 and still has not published a credible plan to show how it will be achieved’.
‘We support Greenpeace’
Tesco group executive director Dave Lewis released a statement in response to Greenpeace’s campaign saying the retailer ‘supports Greenpeace’s aim to prevent further Amazon deforestation’ and ‘that’s why Tesco does not buy meat from Brazil’.
“We have worked alongside Greenpeace on this issue over many years. Today we call for our Government to mandate food companies, as part of its National Food Strategy, to introduce effective due diligence across supply chains to make sure all food sold in the UK is deforestation-free,” he added.
Moy Park and Tulip
He would not commit to ditching Moy Park and Tulip saying that ‘penalizing suppliers who are playing their part and stand ready to do more cannot be in the interests of this agenda’.
A Tesco spokesperson added that ‘blacklisting them could lead to thousands of job losses, impact British farmers and ultimately compromise our ability to offer fresh British meat and chicken to our customers’.
Tesco said it ‘recognizes that the whole country needs to reduce meat and dairy consumption’ but said that ‘right now 74 percent of shoppers don’t want supermarkets to remove meat’
However, it said, as part of its drive towards zero deforestation, it is ‘leading the way’ in developing ‘meat alternative products’ and offers more than 400 plant-based products, with plans to increase this over this year.
Anna Jones, head of forests, Greenpeace UK, said: “The Amazon is perilously close to tipping point. Scientists warn that in fewer than 20 years it could collapse with catastrophic consequences for Indigenous groups, forest wildlife, our health and the climate.
“Tesco’s CEO knows we need to eat less meat and dairy to protect forests and stop climate breakdown. And yet the supermarket sells more of it than any other UK company and continues to buy from suppliers owned by Amazon destroyers.”
She added: “Tesco has completely failed to meet its 2020 zero-deforestation pledge and has kicked the can a further five years down the road. Claims that any of the soy in its meat supply chain is ‘deforestation free’ are also hugely misleading, since Tesco merely buys credits to offset soya use without tracing which farms it actually comes from.
“Unless Tesco commits to significantly reducing meat and dairy sales and drops forest destroyers immediately, vitally important forests will continue to be slashed and burned, and climate change and the risk of future pandemics will only get worse.
“Our future depends on us eating less meat and dairy and more plant-based food. This way, we could feed more people with all the calories and nutrition needed for a healthy diet without destroying forests.”