Firms threaten to stop sourcing from Brazil over land reform

Supermarkets and food companies have threatened to stop sourcing from Brazil if proposed land reforms go ahead.

In a letter to the country’s National Congress, firms including Aldi, Asda, Iceland and Greggs said measures to allow people occupying land in the Amazon to be granted legal ownership were “extremely concerning”.

“The existing protections and land designations enshrined in Brazilian legislation have been instrumental in our organisations having trust that our products, services, investments and business relationships in Brazil are aligned with the commitments we hold as environmentally and socially responsible enterprises, and that our customers and stakeholders expect of us,” said the letter.

The proposed legislation has provoked debate in Brazil, with a public hearing told it would correct a “historic injustice” around farmers working land they did not own, while others said it would promote deforestation.

The letter, with 38 signatories including Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Ahold Delhaize, said if the measure became law firms would “reconsider our support and use of the Brazilian agricultural commodity supply chain”.

“Our door remains open to work with Brazilian partners on supporting the development of sustainable land management and agriculture,” said the letter.

“We are willing partners to enable this in a way that supports economic development whilst upholding the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional communities. These critical goals must be achieved without putting at risk the progress that Brazil has made so far in protecting the vital ecosystems that are essential for the health of the world we all share.

“However, if this or other measures that undermine these existing protections become law, we will have no choice but to reconsider our support and use of the Brazilian agricultural commodity supply chain.”

In 2020 soya feed supplied to Cargill was linked to deforestation in Brazil, while mandatory due diligence reporting on deforestation – covering soya, palm oil, timber, pulp and paper, beef and leather, rubber and cocoa – is to be incorporated into the UK government’s Environment Bill.

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