Forests play a critical role in our global ecosystem. They are the lungs of our planet. Today, forests cover 30% of the earth’s land surface, are a vital source of oxygen and home to 80% of earth’s biodiversity, including many endangered species. They also provide livelihoods for 1.6 billion people. The world has already lost approximately half its forests over the past century and what remains is increasingly under threat. Preventing further deforestation and degradation is critical to a sustainable future.
As part of our Little Helps Plan, and through our membership of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), Tesco is committed to achieving zero-net deforestation, in the sourcing of palm oil, soy, wood/paper and Brazilian beef for our Own Brand products. We endorse the New York Declaration on Forests and are specifically committed to:
- No conversion of High Conservation Value Areas (HCVs)
- No conversion of High Carbon Stock forests
- No new developments on peatland
- No trade of CITES timber species
- Adoption of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) principles
- Resolution of complaints and conflicts through an open, transparent and consultative process
To achieve this zero-net deforestation commitment, effective collaboration between industry, governments and civil society is needed within a framework of good governance and sustainable land-use planning.
Our approach to environmental sustainability starts with transparency – setting clear targets, mapping our “footprint” and tracking our progress against targets. This transparency is just as important for globally traded commodities such as palm oil and soy. Mapping our footprint includes knowing the countries of origin and the companies which trade or import the commodity into our markets. This visibility helps us to achieve our zero deforestation objectives at both geographic and industry levels.
In order to improve transparency, we engage our direct suppliers to map the origin of the palm oil and soy used in our products. This includes palm oil used as an ingredient in a finished product or soy in animal feed for meat or dairy products. The complexity of these supply chains can limit visibility and traceability to specific countries or importing companies.
The latest results of our 2018/19 mapping are available here. We will continue to work with our suppliers to further refine the data and improve our transparency.
Transparency is an important building block for implementing our three-pronged sustainability strategy of Improve-Transform-Advocate.
One important mechanism to achieve zero deforestation is to drive incremental change through certification. Certification helps to ensure that the forest commodities used in our supply chain meet a recognised level of sustainable production and can stimulate a market for more sustainable products. We have committed to sourcing certified sustainable commodities and products where possible. For example, 100% of the palm oil used in our Tesco Own Brand products is RSPO certified and 92% of our UK Own Brand wood and paper products are FSC/PEFC certified or recycled.
Soy is of priority focus for us due to the unique role we can play in the soy supply chain. 99% of the soy used in our supply chain is in animal feed. In 2018 we announced our detailed UK Zero Deforestation Soy Transition Plan. The journey we will undertake starts with certification. By the end of 2020, all South American soy used in our UK supply chain will be certified to a zero deforestation standard.
However, achieving zero deforestation in forest commodities will require transformational change, in sourcing as well as forest governance. This requires that we take action in our own supply chains as well as with wider industry.
Our UK zero deforestation soy plan includes the goal to source only from verified zero deforestation areas (i.e. geographies with effective forest governance) and outlines the journey from certification to this goal. Compared to certification at individual farm level, this approach aims to transform whole areas of agricultural production with sustainable land-use planning agreements, supported by deforestation monitoring systems.
We have a role in the creation of these zero deforestation verified sourcing areas through our demand and market signals. This is part of our support to the development of innovative and transformative solutions.
We recognise that effective forest governance is essential to successfully reversing deforestation. We are therefore working with others to support national initiatives in producing and consuming countries. In October 2017, along with 22 other global companies, we published a Business Statement of Support (“SoS”) for the Cerrado Manifesto which calls for industry, civil society and government to work together to balance sustainable agricultural development and protection of the important natural ecosystem in Brazil, called the Cerrado.
Global companies urge Brazil not to undermine its protection of the Amazon
Tesco and over 40 finance, livestock, hospitality, and retail companies have come together to sign an open letter to the National Congress of Brazil calling on Deputies and senators to vote against a new law which could cause further destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
Our contribution to funding for soy farmers in the Cerrado
Tesco has announced it will contribute £10 million over five years to a new funding initiative being set up to provide the necessary financial incentives for soy farmers in the Cerrado region of Brazil.
Our plan for zero deforestation soy
Our Responsible Sourcing Manager has written a blog on how we are implementing a soy transition plan to achieve zero deforestation in our supply chain.