Meat and Soy Consumption in Europe and USA Linked to Deforestation in the Amazon

Translated by David Millan

Cargill and Bunge, two transnational food production and processing companies based in the US and the Netherlands respectively, have been linked with the deforestation of at least 249,000 acres (101,000 hectares) of forest in the Amazon (the largest tropical rainforest in the world) and the Brazilian Cerrado (the largest tropical savanna in the world) since March 2019. The data come from an investigation by the monitoring tool Mighty Earth, which works in partnership with the investigative organization Aidenvironment to trace links between the global soy and beef supply chains and the destruction of Brazilian rainforest.

The study tracked other companies in addition to Cargill and Bunge, including the Brazilian meat company JBS, all of them linked to the supply of meat and soy markets in the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and France.

Cargill controls 70% of the import market of Brazilian soy entering the British supermarket supply chain. According to Mighty Earth, 78% of direct soy exports from Brazil to the UK originate from the Cerrado and the Amazon. Direct soy exports from these regions also represent more than 50% of the total volumes of Brazilian soy for France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

See also ⇒ Brasil: La disputa de las tierras indígenas para plantación de soya

In 2018 alone, Brazil exported a total of 7.1 million metric tons of the product to these countries. “This soy is then crushed or refined and sold to meat production companies to feed chickens, cows, and pigs. Supermarkets subsequently sell chicken, pork, milk, and cheese to consumers in ‘own-brand’ products or from well-known meat companies such as Moy Park (in the UK), Le Gaulois and Maitre Coq (in France) or Vion (in the Netherlands),” the organization states in its report.

A portion of cattle production occurs on deforested lands as well. According to the study, “Brazil exported roughly 180,000 tonnes of beef to the European Union and nearly 80,000 tonnes to the United States, according to latest available figures (2017) through companies such as JBS, Marfrig and Minerva.”  JBS alone is linked to the deforestation of 105,000 acres (42,500 hectares). “This beef is then sold on by supermarkets as ‘luxury’ Brazilian beef, or processed beef products such as Hertford corned beef (UK)”, states the report.


The numbers from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show that at least 2.7 million acres (11,000 square kilometers) of tropical rainforest in the Amazon were destroyed between August 2019 and July 2020, the greatest area in over a decade. Mighty Earth tracked a little more than 494,000 acres (2,000 square km), from some of the worst cases of deforestation and logging in the country.



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