Tesco ends JBS meat contract over deforestation

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Brazil

Tesco denied sourcing canned beef from JBS - a source Greenpeace claimed was "tainted"
Tesco denied sourcing canned beef from JBS - a source Greenpeace claimed was "tainted"
Retail giant Tesco and other supermarkets have stopped sourcing beef from meat exporter JBS following claims that its supply was linked to illegal deforestation in the Amazon.

Tesco is named in a Greenpeace report on the Brazilian company, JBS, that claims beef from farms involved in the invasion of indigenous lands and illegal deforestation is still present in the supply chain of JBS slaughterhouses.

“In the UK, cans from this tainted chain of custody are branded and sold by supermarkets such as Tesco,”​ according to the report.

Greenpeace also said that JBS beef customers including Princes, Sainsbury, Asda and Dutch firm Sligro Food Group have “reacted swiftly to the results of its investigations, all cancelling their business with JBS”.

Lose business

Annette Cotter, Greenpeace International forest campaigner, said: “The international market is not interested in buying Amazon destruction. These contract cancellations clearly show that if JBS does not clean up its supply chain, the company will continue to lose business.”

Tesco claimed it started to reduce supplies from JBS a year ago and has “now ceased sourcing any canned beef products from JBS”.

Most of the beef it sells, including all fresh beef, is sourced from the UK and Ireland, while canned beef products sourced from Brazil account for less than 1% of total beef sales.

Commenting on the report, a Tesco spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “A wide variety of considerations, including ethics and sustainability, are taken into account when making decisions about supply chain contracts.

“We're unable to discuss individual details but remain committed to tackling rainforest deforestation. Ethics and sustainability remain an important part of our dialogue with suppliers.”

Asda said it does not source any Asda brand products from JBS and all its products are EU-sourced.

Sainsbury made no further comment.

However, a spokesman for Princes told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We have been working closely with our Brazilian suppliers to support them in the development of their sustainability plans.

New contracts with JBS

“JBS has made significant positive progress. We await visibility of the JBS ‘road-map’ to achieve the goal of zero deforestation and until this is in place we have suspended the placing of new contracts with JBS.”

The expansion of cattle ranching in the Amazon region is said to be the biggest driver of deforestation in the country.

In 2009 the biggest Brazilian slaughterhouses, including JBS, committed to ensuring that deforestation practices were eliminated from their supply chains in the Cattle Agreement.

Greenpeace states that in the past three years, the total volume of imports of canned beef from Brazil to the UK was about 78,800t valued at £223M. This made the UK the largest importer, accounting for nearly 30% of the total exported.

It is calling for companies to “stop purchasing products supplied by JBS until such time as JBS can guarantee in a monitored, verifiable and reportable fashion its implementation of the Cattle Agreement”.

Meanwhile, JBS has pledged to sue Greenpeace for what it calls false claims about its meat, according to the Bernama news agency.

No comment was available from JBS.

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