Tesco deforestation policy has ‘critical flaws’

Tesco has been urged to rethink its relationship with meat suppliers after warnings that it is failing to tackle deforestation in its supply chain.

The Big 4 grocer recently said that companies using soy for livestock feed, which is often grown in deforested areas, must report its country of origin by next year.

It is part of a bid to make Tesco’s soy deforestation-free by 2025.

However, campaigners insisted that the policy left a “get out of jail free card” for suppliers.

READ MORE: Tesco accused of destroying rainforest by protestors

Mighty Earth UK director Robin Willoughby told The Grocer that Tesco’s reliance on third-party schemes to certify deforestation-free soy had “significant flaws”.

“It allows companies […] to sell premium certified products to Tesco, whilst simultaneously deforesting other parts of their supply chain,” he claimed. 

Instead, campaigners believe Tesco should shun businesses that have been linked to chopping down the rainforest through their subsidiaries.

The supermarket faced protests at its head office in June over its dealings with “forest destroyers” JBS, which has repeatedly been tied to deforesting the Amazon via its suppliers.

Although the meat company denied the allegations, it does not intend to stop deforestation in its supply chain until 2035.

Willoughby argued that Tesco should drop Cargill as a supplier, which was labelled the “worst company in the world” in 2019 when it was linked to deforestation in Brazil.

However, others believe the multi-billion corporation is so dominant in the UK soy market that the move would be impossible.

Tesco said it is “committed to fully playing our part to prevent deforestation”, having “met our 2020 industry-wide target of certified ‘zero net deforestation’ for our own direct soy sourcing a year early”.

“Recognising there is more to do, we have set an additional 2025 target to only source our UK soy from verified zero deforestation regions,” it continued.

“We are working with our suppliers to ensure they meet our updated soy policy standards, with the goal of driving improvements throughout the wider supply chain.”

The news comes after Tesco warned that Britain was “lagging behind” other countries in encouraging insect farming as an alternative to soy.

It is believed that UK farms could produce around 240,000 tonnes of insect meal annually.

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