Major supermarket chains Tesco, Carrefour, Aldi, M&S, Lidl and Sainsbury’s risk selling meat and dairy products connected to companies driving vast deforestation in Brazil, just months after its own industry task force released a Roadmap that called unequivocally on member companies to cease such purchases.
In response to the October 2021 announcement on banning purchases linked to deforestation by the Retail Soy Group (representing supermarkets Ahold Delhaize, Aldi South, Aldi North, Co-op (UK), Co-op Switzerland, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Migros, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose & Partners, and Woolworth’s Group- Australia), Mighty Earth undertook an intensive analysis of the companies’ adherence to the key steps and commitments outlined in their own zero-deforestation Roadmap.
The goal of the analysis was to provide the supermarkets with the information they needed to adhere to their own company commitments to act on climate change and end the destruction of native ecosystems.
Supermarkets’ own policies ignored
Mighty Earth’s new report, ‘Promises, Promises’, found over 27,000 hectares of recent deforestation on soy plantations in just one critical ecosystem – the Brazilian Cerrado – subject to the ban on purchases.
Critically, the deforestation occurred after August 2020, the cut-off date adopted in the supermarkets’ Roadmap.
Nine members of the Retail Soy Group – Ahold Delhaize, Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Migros, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Woolworths – and other retailers such as Carrefour explicitly adopted policies not to buy soy, meat or dairy linked to companies connected to post-2020 deforestation.
However, while the supermarkets accepted Mighty Earth’s alarming new evidence, to date they have all refused to adhere to their own commitments by shifting business away from those meat industry companies linked to deforestation.
‘We’re talking about ecocide’
In its explanation of its reasoning for declining to act on the Roadmap that it had authored as part of the responsible working group, a spokesperson for Aldi Süd wrote to Mighty Earth to say that despite the new evidence, ‘Our approach is to communicate the aligned ask and expectations of many actors in the supply chain to the [soy] traders and engage with them on a basis of trust instead of excluding them or publicly shaming them.’
‘Aldi claiming to trust the very companies that were just exposed breaking their own Roadmap pledges is the height of either dishonesty or naïveté or both. Enough with the weasel words. We’re talking about ecocide here.’
‘The ecosystem destruction we found in the Cerrado connected to the supermarkets is just a fraction of what they’re responsible for. We know these supermarkets also have supply chain links to extensive ecosystem destruction in Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, and the United States’ Great Plains as well.’
Senior director for Mighty Earth