UK Beef Policy

Last updated: 15/06/2017

Background

Cattle production can be a significant driver of deforestation in South America, both directly through ranching activities that encroach on forests or indirectly through the cultivation of soy for livestock feed.

As part of the Consumer Goods Forum, we have pledged to contribute to achieving zero net deforestation by 2020. Ensuring that our cattle products are sourced in a responsible way is key to this. 

In the UK, all our fresh beef comes from the UK or the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and our corned beef comes from UK/ROI and Brazilian sourced beef.

Sourcing from Brazil, we need to ensure our trade provides social and economic benefits without contributing to environmental degradation – including deforestation.

In 2009, in response to increasing concerns about deforestation linked to cattle ranching, Greenpeace, in conjunction with the major beef producers in Brazil, developed the Brazilian Cattle Agreement. This Agreement signalled a step-change in the way the major beef companies in Brazil monitored their supply chains to ensure the farms they were sourcing from were not contributing to further deforestation or associated with forced labour or encroachment onto indigenous lands or conservation areas. As part of this Agreement, participating companies agreed to undergo annual independent audits, to provide confidence and transparency in their strengthened supply chains control systems.

Our approach

Our Brazilian corned beef supplier has controls in place to monitor the farms they source cattle from directly, using GPS satellite-based mapping technology to identify and if necessary block farms that encroach on protected forest areas. In addition, our supplier uses official registers, maintained by the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment and its agency IBAMA to identify and avoid any farms associated with forced labour.

In the latest (2016) independent audit, conducted by an independent 3rd party, our supplier was found to be in compliance against these practices in line with their commitments under the Cattle Agreement, for the third consecutive year.

Current challenges

We recognise that progress towards full transparency within the Brazilian cattle industry must be accelerated if the industry is to achieve its goal of de-coupling cattle ranching from deforestation and human rights abuses. Industry action to achieve full life cycle cattle traceability must be a priority.

We remain committed, alongside our supplier, to full compliance with the requirements of the Cattle Agreement and to ensuring we do not buy corned beef linked to deforestation, human rights abuses or the invasion of indigenous people’s lands and are currently conducting a further review of our Brazilian sourcing.

Commitments

  • To mobilise resources to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020.