Meat sold in Tesco linked to major deforestation in the Amazon rainforest

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A report by nonprofit organisation Mighty Earth has found that chicken and pig products are linked to recent illegal fires and deforestation of 635 hectares of Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

The destruction has led to more than 220,000 trees being lost, and the equivalent of 560 Wembley football pitches worth of land being cleared. With countless animal species murdered in the process.

The report follows an investigation mapping Tesco’s full soy supply chain from farm level in the Amazon, via US agricultural giant Cargill, on to UK meat producers Avara and Pilgrim’s UK, and finally to the shelves of the UK’s biggest retailer.

For the first time, Mighty Earth’s investigation made links from US meat supplier giant Cargill to a leading UK pig meat supplier and trading division of Pilgrim’s UK, direct suppliers to Tesco.

The joint investigation by Mighty Earth, Ecostorm, and Repórter Brasil documents evidence of illegal fires set in September 2022 which were used to clear forests to grow high-protein soy, to feed pigs and poultry reared intensively in farms in the UK. 

The investigation also uncovered evidence of grain laundering, where legally grown soy is mixed with soy grown on illegally deforested land.  

Mighty Earth is urging Tesco to drop soy suppliers such as Cargill that have been persistently linked to alleged deforestation and ecosystem destruction in the Amazon and other threatened biomes in Latin America, such as the Cerrado savannah and the Pantanal. 

Satellite images of Cargill supplier Santa Ana farm, situated in Mato Grosso, show a total of 635 hectares of Amazon deforestation, 400 hectares of which were burned within a few days in September 2022.

Might Earth’s investigation showed grain deliveries from Frontier Agriculture, a joint Cargill-Associated British Foods venture, to ForFarmers feed mill. The company supplies BQP farms, which supplies pigs and is a trading division of Pilgrim’s UK, direct suppliers to Tesco. 

Gemma Hoskins, UK Director of Mighty Earth said: “Our investigation shows Tesco is a basket of problems for the Amazon. While the UK’s top retailer reaps massive profits, it continues to do business with known forest destroyers such as Cargill, adding fuel to the fire of Amazon deforestation, harming the health of local communities, and decimating wildlife and precious habitats.”

“Cargill urgently needs to increase its ambition in line with its competitors and customers and bringing forward its deforestation target to from 2030 to 2025. We can’t allow another seven years of deforestation if we’re to save what’s left of the Amazon and avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” added Glenn Hurowitz, founder, and CEO at Mighty Earth.

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