If you shop at Tesco, you’re just the customer Greenpeace wants to recruit for its latest campaign: shaming Britain’s biggest supermarket into ending its relationship with “industrial meat” from a supplier whose fortune depends on the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
Brazilian company JBS is the biggest meat producer in the world and sources its meat and animal feed from an area in the Amazon larger than Germany, much of it land that was cleared to make way for cattle ranches and soya plantations.
The company was the focus of a Greenpeace report in 2009, Slaughtering the Amazon. It threatened to sue the green organisation in 2012 over a “JBS scorecard” that accused it of failing to implement changes it had promised to make three years earlier, but withdrew the lawsuit later that year. The title of an updated Greenpeace report, released last week – Still Slaughtering the Amazon – makes it clear the extent to which JBS has cleaned up its act in the intervening decade.
Now Greenpeace is asking Britons to begin exercising their power as consumers to get Tesco – as well as the likes of Sainsbury’s, Asda, Burger King, McDonald’s and KFC – to cut ties with JBS and its subsidiaries. Its new petition calls on Tesco to “stop buying from companies owned by JBS” and to “replace half the meat you sell with plant-based food by 2025”.
Tesco is the primary target of the campaign, it explains, because it “uses more soya for animal feed than any other supermarket”. Millions of tonnes of JBS soya from rainforest land is imported into the UK and fed to the animals whose meat is sold by Tesco and the other supermarkets and fast food companies. All but Asda are also buying meat direct from JBS-owned companies.
A decision by the supermarket giant to end its relationship with JBS would send a powerful message to meat companies and the British food industry that meat that costs the planet does not belong on our shop shelves or plates. As the petition says: “[Tesco has] the power to help break this destructive cycle. But so far they’ve taken no meaningful action. Tell Tesco to lead the way in averting disaster.”
In an open letter to Tesco, Greenpeace adds that the UK’s biggest food retailers: “Knowingly sell vast quantities of industrial meat from companies linked to deforestation in the Amazon and other forests, breaking public promises made a decade ago to end deforestation in their supply chains. [They] must end the UK’s addiction to industrial meat, and help reduce the amount we consume.”
The petition hopes to gather 200,000 signatures. Almost 170,000 people have signed up so far, which will give Tesco’s incoming chief executive Ken Murphy food for thought when he takes over next month. Current CEO Dave Lewis is well aware of the industrial meat campaign, having already been deluged with more than 20,000 emails on the subject from concerned customers.
Read the Greenpeace report How JBS is Still Slaughtering the Amazon