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In Europe, supermarkets and industry are stepping up initiatives to keep Brazilian soybeans from deforestation out of their supply. The latest: the ultimatum to the trading giants to stop selling them soybeans grown on cleared land in Cerrado, Brazil’s water tower.
Cerrado has become the new frontier for Brazilian soybeans since a moratorium temporarily halted deforestation in the Amazon. Savannah region where most of Brazil’s waterways are born, the Cerrado has seen half of its natural vegetation burned in ten years. It now supplies 60% of Brazil’s soybeans, but clearing continues. It is therefore the new field of mobilization of environmentalists and scientists.
From Cargill to Louis Dreyfus, the traders in the hot seat
In 2017, 60 companies decided to join their “manifesto for Cerrado”. Now there are 160. From McDonald’s to Unilever via Nestlé, Kellogg’s, Barry Callebaut or L’Oréal, but also Auchan, Carrefour, Lidl, Cooperl, Sodexo… These brands are sent by mail to their suppliers, ADM traders, Bunge, Cargill, Louis Dreyfus, Cofco and Glencore-Viterra, so that they stop sourcing from next year soybeans grown on new land cleared of Cerrado. Otherwise they will stop their purchases.
Norwegian salmon farmer gives up Brazilian soybeans
Some European buyers have already taken the plunge: Nestlé has stopped sourcing Brazilian soy from Cargill, the Norwegian salmon giant Grieg Seafood, has excluded the American supplier from its new aquaculture investments financed by its green bonds. Finally, last week, Bremnes Seashore, another major Norwegian player in salmon farming, announced that it would no longer feed Brazilian soybeans to its fish, but rather European grains.
Massive exports to China
The pressure is increasing on intermediaries but for the moment this does not prevent Brazil from exporting record quantities of soybeans (more than 82 million tonnes in 2020), thanks to Chinese demand.
Insatiable in recent months, it has emptied Brazilian stocks, to the point that Brazil, yet the largest producer in the world with 127 million tonnes in 2020, had to import a million tonnes this year, a record, for its own consumption.