UK supermarkets slammed by GreenpeaceStores dispute Greenpeace deforestation claims

02 June 2009


Some of Britain's biggest brands have been linked to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, in allegations by Greenpeace.

Britons' enthusiasm for ready meals as well as canned beef and leather products was contributing to a boom in demand for cattle ranching in Brazil, the environmental campaign group claims.

Greenpeace claims the expansion of the cattle industry in the Amazon region was the single biggest cause of deforestation in the world.

Greenpeace investigation

The investigation report by Greenpeace asserts that beef and leather products could be traced from farms said to be involved in 'illegal deforestation and, in some cases, slavery' through giant processing facilities to the supply chains of major global brands.

The report highlights a long list of household brand names including supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons and Marks and Spencer. All, according to a report in the Guardian, deny that the beef in their products is from the Amazon. 

Read the full Greenpeace report to find out all the brands mentioned in the report.

Greenpeace claims 40% of our prepared, cooked or tinned beef came from Brazil and of this nearly 90% came from a trio of companies who 'knowingly' bought significant volumes of cattle from farms engaged in 'recent and illegal' deforestation.

Supermarkets respond 

Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons and Marks and Spencer all refute the claims made by Greenpeace in the report. According to the Guardian:

Marks and Spencer said: 'We do not accept and have never used any beef from the Amazon region. We have been working with our Brazilian beef supplier for over 20 years and through the traceability measures we have in place we can ensure that all the product supplied to us by them is from the exact location we specify.'

Sainsbury's said it used 'a small amount of Brazilian beef in our frozen and canned range', while Morrisons said its suppliers provided documents to prove beef was not linked to Amazon deforestation. Asda said it was confident its beef did not come from the Amazon. It said: 'If that isn't the case we'd take that very seriously indeed.'

A spokesman for Tesco said: 'We don't take any beef from Brazil at the moment except corned beef, as that's the only place we can source it from. That's from Sao Paulo, 3,000km from the Amazon.

'The supplier that they say we use is from various parts of Brazil and we take nothing from the Amazon forest.

'It's correct that we use the supplier sometimes but (the beef is) from nowhere near the Amazon.'

'Slaughtering the Amazon'

Greenpeace forest campaigner Sarah Shoraka said: 'Running shoes, handbags and ready meals aren't normally associated with rainforest destruction and climate change.

'We say new evidence shows how UK companies are driving the destruction of the Amazon by buying beef and leather products from suppliers in Brazil. These products are ending up on our shelves.'

The Slaughtering The Amazon report called on UK companies to stop buying from Brazilian suppliers who do not commit to cleaning up their supply chains and support a moratorium on all deforestation for cattle ranching.

Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva should also introduce an immediate moratorium on further deforestation for cattle ranching, Greenpeace said.

Supermarkets in the news

A separate study, the UK Supermarkets 2009 Carbon Benchmark Report, published last week, said that food stores were taking the issue of climate change seriously and had been making positive steps to meet green commitments.

Meanwhile we've also got a comprehensive review of online supermarket offerings in our reviews section, and advice and information on green issues in Which?'s greener living section.

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