Have you noticed the words 'Tesco meat = deforestation’ stencilled in white chalk outside your local Tesco branch?

The words appeared outside the stores in Headington, Summertown and Abingdon Road in Oxford on Thursday as part of a nationwide protest by environmental organisation Greenpeace.

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A week earlier, the same message was stencilled outside three Tesco stores in Kidlington and Abingdon.

Greenpeace is leading a campaign calling on the supermarket to drop 'forest-destroying suppliers' from their food chain.

Oxford Mail: Greenpeace campaigner outside the Tesco branch in SummertownGreenpeace campaigner outside the Tesco branch in Summertown

Greenpeace volunteer Janet Budd, from Cumnor Hill, said: ‘We’ve given Tesco plenty of time to respond to our demand to drop forest destroyers from their supply chain, and replace half the meat Tesco sells with plant-based food by 2025.

"But so far they don’t seem to be getting the message that industrial meat is bad for our planet. That’s why Greenpeace volunteers in Oxfordshire decided to give CEO Ken Murphy a friendly reminder that 'Tesco meat equals deforestation' outside two branches in Abingdon, and in Kidlington, Headington, Summertown and Abingdon Road, Oxford."

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Tesco CEO Ken Murphy recently published an article in The Grocer on the need for the food sector to take collective action on climate change but Greenpeace was disappointed that he failed to mention the link between meat, deforestation and the climate emergency.

What are 'forest-destroying suppliers'?

Campaigners say Tesco sells more soya-fed meat than any UK supermarket, much of it from companies owned by rainforest destroyers.

The industrial meat industry deliberately starts fires to clear land to farm cattle, or grow soya to feed livestock reared in the UK.

Oxford Mail: Tesco branch in HeadingtonTesco branch in Headington

Devastating fires raged across Brazil last year burning an area of land the size of the UK in the Amazon rainforest, the Pantanal wetlands and the Cerrado savannah.

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A major investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Greenpeace Unearthed has linked retailers including Tesco, Asda, Lidl, McDonalds and Nando’s to fires on farmland in the Brazilian Cerrado.

These places are the homes of Indigenous Peoples and wildlife, and are globally vital to the fight against climate change. 

What Tesco says

The supermarket says that while several leading UK retailers continue to sell Brazilian beef, it stopped selling it in early 2018 due to concerns over deforestation. 

Tesco's suppliers do source the majority of soy used in animal feed from Brazil, but all of its suppliers must meet its environmental and zero deforestation standards.

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Working with suppliers, the store met the 2020 industry-wide target of ‘zero net deforestation’ for its own direct soy sourcing a year early. 

Tesco says it knows this isn’t sufficient to ensure deforestation is prevented across the sector, which is why it has set an additional industry-leading target for the soy it uses in the UK to be from entire areas that are verified deforestation-free by 2025. 

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