UK supermarkets admit they cannot guarantee their supply chains are free of soya linked to deforestation despite commitments made

Author: Anna Sophie Gross, Uki Goñi and Bibi van der Zee, The Guardian , Published on: 7 October 2019

"Tesco and M&S likely to have soya linked to deforestation in supply chains", 5 Oct 2019

Tesco, M&S and several other UK supermarkets admit that they cannot guarantee that soya from deforested areas is not in their supply chain despite commitments to phase out its use, the Guardian has found.

An investigation has revealed that Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and M&S all buy products from UK farmers using animal feed that includes soya from Argentina. About 14% of Argentina’s planted soya is in the north of the country, where deforestation has laid waste to huge areas...

Argentinian officials have confirmed to the Guardian that there is no traceability system for soya from deforested areas...

Tesco said it has a detailed plan to eliminate deforested soya from its supply chain by 2025. Marks & Spencer agreed that Argentinian soya is in the company’s supply chain: it is working towards a 2020 goal of zero deforestation, and refers to the work of the Retailers’ Soy Group and the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya.

Asda is working towards sustainable soya sourcing by 2020 for its own-brand meat, fish and dairy products. It is also looking into its entire supply chain, with the aim of sourcing 100% responsible soya by 2025 for its primary protein range, including fresh meat, fish and milk. Morrisons did not respond to Guardian queries. (Full statements can be found here.)

But the problem is so extensive that many scientists and campaigners question whether voluntary initiatives will solve the problem...

One possible route in Europe and the UK would be new regulations that require all companies of a certain size to file an annual report on the work they’ve done to clear deforestation – and other issues – from their supply chains. France already has a similar law...

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Related companies: ASDA (part of Walmart) Marks & Spencer Morrisons Tesco Walmart