From Crop to Consumption

Tesco announces support for funding to protect Cerrado region in Brazil

Tesco has become one of the first companies to lend its support to a new initiative designed to help end soy-associated deforestation in one of Brazil’s most important areas of biodiversity.

Tesco’s £10 million contribution over five years to the Funding for Soy Farmers in the Cerrado initiative will support soy farmers in the Cerrado region of Brazil to protect native vegetation and transition to producing soy only on existing agricultural land. The retailer has been joined by the animal nutrition business, Nutreco, and Grieg Seafood in pledging funds to support the soy farmers of the Cerrado. Conservation experts like the WWF support the need for financial incentives for soy farmers to protect the Cerrado.

It’s hoped more companies will come forward to support the initiative in the coming weeks. The retailer is also inviting the Brazilian soy industry to lead the development of an effective mechanism to ensure the funding meets the objective of protecting native vegetation.

Soy is a key ingredient in animal feed, and Tesco sources a large proportion of the soy it uses in its agricultural supply chains from the Brazilian Cerrado. The funding will support the Cerrado to become a verified zero deforestation area for soy and help Tesco meet its commitment of achieving zero-net deforestation in its sourcing of soy, helping to make products on Tesco’s shelves, including chicken, pork, and eggs, more sustainable.

Tesco Group CEO, Dave Lewis said: “We source much of our soy for animal feed from Brazil and the Cerrado region, so it’s only right we play a leading role in protecting this biodiverse region for future generations.

“The Funding for Soy Farmers in the Cerrado initiative is the first step in safeguarding a huge, biodiverse and carbon-rich area of Brazil, while also allowing farmers to continue to farm soy sustainably. This is an important next step in the Cerrado’s sustainability journey, but it will only be truly transformative if more organisations come forward and support it.”

In 2018, Tesco published its Transition Plan to achieving zero-net deforestation in its sourcing of soy. With its commitment, the retailer hopes to accelerate its progress towards sourcing all of its soy from verified zero deforestation sourcing areas by 2025.

WWF UK CEO Tanya Steele said: “The Cerrado, like its neighbour the Amazon rainforest, is critical to the survival of our planet but it has never been under greater threat. This move from Tesco is a significant step forward for the sector and demonstrates real leadership in the fight to protect precious places like the Cerrado, a unique habitat that is home to nearly 5% of the world’s biodiversity.

“If we don’t protect our forests and precious natural habitats, we lose in the fight against climate change. We urge other businesses, foundations and governments to step up and join the fight.”