An area of forest twice the size of the UK has been destroyed since 2010 to create plantations that supply some of the world’s leading food companies, according to a Greenpeace report.
The rate of forest loss has increased since 2016, meaning that pledges by Nestlé, Mondelez and other companies in 2010 to end deforestation by 2020 may not be met, the group said.
Forests in Brazil, Indonesia and African countries in the Congo basin are among the worst affected, with vast areas cleared to create palm oil and soya plantations and grazing for cattle.
Greenpeace examined satellite mapping data from Nasa and calculated that the total area of forest lost since 2010 would exceed 50 million hectares by the end of this year.
The area planted with soya in Brazil has increased by 45 per cent in nine years. About 90 per cent of soya is used to feed animals to produce meat and dairy products, including in Britain.
Indonesian palm oil production has grown by 75 per cent in that time. The oil is used in many products, including chocolate and ice cream. The amount of land used to grow cocoa in Ivory Coast has increased by 80 per cent.
Greenpeace has written to more than 50 companies asking them to demonstrate progress in ending deforestation by disclosing their commodity suppliers. In a report published today to coincide with the Consumer Goods Forum’s summit in Ontario, it says: “All brands that disclosed suppliers were sourcing from commodities traders Bunge or Cargill, who buy soya from agribusinesses accused of land-grabbing and destroying the Brazilian Cerrado, the world’s most wildlife-rich savannah.”
Anna Jones, of Greenpeace UK, said: “These companies are destroying our children’s future by driving us towards climate and ecological collapse. They’ve wasted a decade on half-measures and in that time vast areas of the natural world have been destroyed.
“They should be in crisis talks right now, but they’re still trying to grow demand for products that will drive forest destruction even further.”
Nestlé, which owns Kit Kat and Haagen-Dazs ice cream, buys from Bunge and Cargill. It said: “We agree consumer goods companies, suppliers and governments all need to do more to tackle deforestation.” Mondelez, which owns Cadbury, said it was working “to secure sustainable supplies of key materials”.
Cargill said: “We are firmly committed to eliminating deforestation from our supply chains.” Bunge said it was committed to “deforestation-free supply chains” and “sustainable agricultural production in Brazil”.