From 20th– 23rd May, a message stencilled in white and yellow chalk, exposing that ‘Tesco meat = deforestation’ appeared outside the supermarket’s branches in Lottbridge Drove, Meads, Grove Road, Seaside, and Hampden Park locations, as part of a nationwide protest. After months of campaigning for the supermarket to drop forest suppliers from their food chain, Tesco’s response has amounted to little more than greenwashing. 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 failed to even mention the link between meat, deforestation and the climate emergency. Tesco sells more soya-fed meat than any UK supermarket, much of it from companies owned by rainforest destroyers.
Rebecca, from Eastbourne 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 decided to give CEO Ken Murphy a friendly reminder that Tesco meat = deforestation outside the Eastbourne branches.’
These messages are the latest step in Greenpeace’s campaign calling on Tesco to cut ties with forest destroyers. Late last year, volunteers visited branches of Tesco to re-imagine a scene from Greenpeace’s animation Monster, about industrial meat production, and put up posters on Tesco storefronts reading ‘stop selling industrial meat linked to forest destruction’. A life-size animatronic jaguar, one of the iconic animals threatened by the rainforest destruction, also visited Tesco supermarkets in Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire, and London. The jaguar roared from the roof of what appeared to be a delivery van, surrounded by forest foliage. Flames engulfed Tesco’s strapline on the sides of the van, which had been subverted to read ‘Every Little Harms’.
The industrial meat industry deliberately starts fires to clear land to farm cattle, or grow soya to feed livestock reared in the UK. Devastating fires raged across Brazil last year consuming an area of land the size of the UK in places like the Amazon rainforest, Pantanal wetlands and Cerrado savannah. 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 habitats are the homes of Indigenous Peoples and wildlife, globally important in the fight against climate change and, ever more crucially, key to keeping new, potentially deadly viruses contained.
Rebecca continued ‘For Ken Murphy to talk about why the food sector needs collective action on climate change, but not to mention that soya-fed, industrially farmed pigs, cows or chickens exacerbate this problem, is like failing to mention the role of the iceberg in the sinking of the Titanic. Tesco sells hundreds and thousands of tonnes of industrial meat, much of it produced by companies owned by rainforest-destroyers JBS. Mr Murphy must commit to replacing half the meat Tesco sells with plant-based food by 2025. If he’s still unclear as to why meat = deforestation he’s welcome to join us at our next Greenpeace Eastbourne Group meeting and we’ll happily talk him through it.’