Tesco calls for deforestation-free food in the UK

Setting fires to clear land for crops or grazing is destroying precious habitats like the Brazilian rainforest. It must stop. That’s why we support Greenpeace’s aim to prevent further Amazon deforestation.

We have worked alongside Greenpeace on this issue over many years and we are ready to do more directly and as part of a national and industry level solution. We acknowledge that as the UK’s largest retailer, we have a responsibility to lead on this issue and that has driven our actions to date and will continue to do so.

We stand ready to play our part, and 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.

Our actions in support of zero deforestation

In support of zero deforestation, Tesco has undertaken the following actions:

  • We do not sell any Brazilian meat (beef, chicken or pork) due to concerns about deforestation. In early 2018 we became the first UK supermarket to remove Brazilian beef from sale.
  • We have set challenging public targets committing to zero deforestation.
    • In 2010, we committed to achieving zero net deforestation by 2020 through certification and we are on track to achieve this.
    • However, in 2018, we recognised that this wasn’t enough and we set an additional target to ensure that not only is our soy zero deforestation, but it comes from whole areas and regions that are verified as deforestation free. This was not a change to our target, rather it represented a strengthening of our ambitions and commitment in line with expert advice on the most effective approach. This was done openly and followed extensive consultation with experts and stakeholders including Greenpeace. This approach is recognised by experts as industry-leading.
  • We are leading the way on developing meat alternative products and promoting plant-based proteins. We now stock over 400 lines of plant-based products (46% increase since 2019), and we are planning for a further 30% increase over the coming 12 months. We were the first retailer in the UK to merchandise all our meat alternatives in the meat aisle and we outperformed the market for plant-based proteins in the UK by 40%. Just last week the widely-respected organisation FAIRR published a detailed and independent assessment of the top global food companies’ move towards plant–based foods and identified Tesco as a ‘global pioneer’ coming top in the survey.
  • We are also recognised as having played a key role in convening the global food industry to collaborate and protect the Amazon. In 2006 Tesco was a founding supporter of the Amazon Soy Moratorium and later we were a founding member of the Soy Transparency Coalition.
  • More recently, we led a broad-based coalition of businesses to lobby the Brazilian Congress on a measure that would have enabled further levels of deforestation of the Amazon. We worked extensively to gain signatories to a letter advocating against this measure, including very closely with Greenpeace.
  • In late 2019, in recognition of the threat of deforestation in the Cerrado region – from where we source the majority of our Brazilian soy –Tesco was the first company to respond to calls from NGOs and committed £10m to the Cerrado Funding Coalition and convened a further 150 companies to also lend their support to the Cerrado.
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Collaborating with industry

There is more we can do and we stand ready to play a bigger part. Food and farming creates 70% of global deforestation. That’s why Tesco has called for a co-ordinated UK policy on food that will drive the transformational changes needed to ensure our food systems deliver affordable, healthy, sustainable food. Protecting the Amazon is a critical part of this and can only be achieved through a broad coalition of government, industry, experts and NGOs. Specifically:

  • We believe the Government should mandate food companies, as part of its National Food Strategy, to introduce effective due diligence across supply chains to make sure the food sold in the UK is deforestation-free.
  • Transparency is also critical. We published our roadmap for achieving our 2025 targets on our website in July 2018. We will also publish progress against the targets we’re setting to increase plant-based protein as part of our ground-breaking work with WWF on reducing the environmental impact of the average shopping basket. This work will be made available to the food industry to support wider efforts to improve sustainability.
  • Research from Greenpeace shows that 74% of shoppers don’t want supermarkets to remove meat from stores, but we recognise that the UK as a whole needs to reduce meat and dairy consumption. While we will continue to act directly, we cannot succeed alone and so will support a UK target to transition to less meat and dairy by 2030. Meat reduction targets need to be set by Government for the whole food system taking into account environment, health and economic recovery and affordability.
  • Treating suppliers fairly is central to our business. Greenpeace is calling on us to delist two suppliers, Moy Park and Tulip, who we have worked with for over 40 years, who collectively employ over 17,000 people in the UK and who meet our environment and zero deforestation standards. The reason – because since 2015 and 2019 respectively, they have been owned by JBS. Businesses need to be part of the coalition to bring about change. Penalising suppliers who are playing their part and stand ready to do more cannot be in the interests of this agenda. Moy Park and Tulip also supply Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. 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.
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Dave Lewis, Group CEO of Tesco, said:

“We all saw the terrible images of the Amazon burning last year. Setting fires to clear land for crops or grazing is destroying precious habitats like the Brazilian rainforest. It must stop. That’s why we support Greenpeace’s aim to prevent further Amazon deforestation. That’s why Tesco does not buy meat from Brazil. It’s why we will hit our target of zero deforestation in our soy animal feed through certification this year. And it’s why we commit to do more, setting tougher targets for 2025.

“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.”

“Right now 74% of shoppers don’t want supermarkets to remove meat but 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. Our plant-based protein lines increased by 46% since last year. Already, 10% of Tesco’s chilled ready meals, milk, ice cream and frozen protein ranges are vegan. We are making tangible progress but we can’t solve this on our own. Government needs to act now and on the whole food system, taking into account economic recovery, health, environment and affordability.”

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