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13 Okt 2021

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

UK: Farms supplying dairy products for Cathedral City Cheddar, Anchor butter and Cadbury chocolate use soya from agribusiness accused of contributing to deforestation in Brazil

"British supermarket cheese linked to catastrophic deforestation in Brazil", 13 October 2021

...UK farms supplying milk and dairy products for Cathedral City Cheddar, Anchor butter and Cadbury chocolate are feeding their cattle soya from a controversial agribusiness accused of contributing to widespread deforestation in Brazil, an investigation has revealed.

The farms, which sell milk to Saputo, Arla and Cadbury, source some of their animal feed from companies buying Brazilian soya exported by the US grain giant Cargill. The investigation by the Bureau, Greenpeace Unearthed, ITV News and the Daily Mirror has uncovered the complex soya supply chains that link British dairy to environmental devastation thousands of miles away in Brazil’s Amazon and Cerrado regions. Both are critical for biodiversity and tackling climate breakdown. The Cerrado region, where most of Brazil’s soya is grown, is home to 5% of the world’s plant and animal species.

The investigation also raises questions about Cargill’s sustainable soya certification...

A Cargill spokesperson said: “Cargill has worked relentlessly to build a more sustainable soya supply chain, helping to address the urgent challenge of protecting native forests and vegetation, while supporting farmers and their communities”...

British MPs and campaigners say the investigation’s findings reinforce the need for tough new laws to force firms to tackle deforestation in their supply chains...

ForFarmers said: “In the UK ForFarmers sources its soya from three countries, of which only 14% is from Brazil” and that in that market “100% of soya bean meal used in all ruminant feed is covered by certificates from responsible soya schemes”.

Arla said it did not recognise Cargill’s Triple S as “a certification that meets our requirements of responsible production”. A spokesperson said: “Both Arla and the dairy farmers that own our cooperative are taking steps to manage our use of soya responsibly.” But they admitted: “We do not monitor the suppliers chosen by our farmer owners for their businesses”...

Saputo said in a statement: “From early 2022, our Davidstow Farm Standards will mandate that all farms which supply to Saputo Dairy UK’s Davidstow creamery must source feed from suppliers with a sustainable soya purchasing policy.” The company said that for the past two years, it had bought credits used to support producers who cultivate soya responsibly.

A Mondelez spokesperson said: "As part of our commitment to tackling deforestation, we have made it clear that we expect all our UK dairy suppliers to work with us and contractually commit to ensuring they are sourcing 100% deforestation free feed by 2023.”

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers are working together to tackle deforestation and drive greater uptake of certified sustainable soya in their supply chains”...

An Asda spokesperson said: “We understand the importance of sustainable soya to our customers and are committed to reducing food production linked to deforestation.” The company said it was working with suppliers on a plan to ensure all its soya is “physically certified” by 2025...