Supply chain round-up: issue 87

May 18, 2006

Fast food link to Amazon destruction
The European fast-food industry is facing the ire of activists for its alleged role in destroying tracts of the Amazon rainforest, brought to light in recent research by environmental campaign group Greenpeace. Investigations suggest that around 70,000 square kilometres of the rainforest has been destroyed, much of it to make way for grow soya ultimately used to feed livestock on farms supplying fast-food outlets in Europe. The investigation tracked soya shipped from the Amazon via a port facility in the town of Santarem, owned by Cargill, to Europe to be fed to animals. McDonald’s has borne the brunt of protest activity, with campaigners fly-posting dozens of the company’s UK restaurants with images of a chainsaw-wielding Ronald McDonald. Contact Greenpeace 020 7865 8100

Out of the woodwork
John Lewis, Travis Perkins and Jewson are among British businesses an undercover investigation alleges are selling hardwood flooring made from illegal timber from the forests of Papua. Behind the Veneer, published by the Environmental Investigation Agency on March 22, suggests that while manufacturers and retailers claim to buy timber only from carefully managed forests, their suppliers openly admit to using hardwood from unknown sources in Papua, where, according to EIA, powerful smuggling syndicates drive massive illegal logging.

John Lewis says that it aims to have all its wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and has withdrawn the product from sale while it investigates the claims more fully. Contact Ashley Misplon EIA 020 7354 7960

Scaling back
Efforts to protect endangered species of fish and conserve the world’s ocean fish stocks continue to gain momentum across UK supermarkets. J Sainsbury announced on February 28 a pledge to stop selling endangered species of fish, starting with skate and huss. Although the supermarket already stocks products from fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, it plans to work jointly with its suppliers and the Marine Conservation Society to develop its own assessment system for wild sourced fish and aquaculture.

Meanwhile Wm Morrison is to change its seafood buying policy, following a day of meetings with Greenpeace campaigners on March 20. The company has agreed to a range of measures including the adoption of a new comprehensive sustainable seafood sourcing policy, the urgent review of its sourcing of skate and talks with suppliers about finding sustainable alternatives, and terminating sales of a range of endangered species.

Wal-Mart-owned Asda has said that it will stop selling North Sea cod by July. The supermarket said that it also intends to follow Wal-Mart’s decision only to sell fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council within 5 years. Contact Louise Edge, Greenpeace 07801 212 993

Not fair for farmers
Four-fifths of British adults want regulation put in place to ensure big supermarkets treat supplier farmers fairly, an NOP poll reveals. Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth commissioned the poll to mark the fourth anniversary of the Supermarket Code of Practice on March 17.

While the aim of the code is to ensure that supermarkets treat their suppliers fairly, the survey indicates that nearly two-thirds of adults think that British farmers are not being paid enough for the food they produce.

FoE expressed concern that if supermarkets continue to squeeze the profits margins of British farmers, farmers will cut costs by using less environmentally farming methods. Contact Craig Bennett, FoE 020 7490 1555

Four pint pledge
Asda is championing the rights of dairy farmers with the launch of a Four Pint Pledge. The pledge asks supermarkets to set up dedicated supply arrangements; publicly publish the price they pay their farmers; invest their own margins when lowering prices; and adopt the National Farmers’ Union’s Vision for the Dairy Industry. The company announced on May 9 that it would lower milk prices for customers to raise the volumes sold. The growth in demand will enable Asda to simultaneously increase the amount it pays the farmers who supply its own-brand milk. The move follows calls from farmers unions for supermarkets to ‘say what they pay’. Contact Asda

Organic growth
J Sainsbury is to boost supplies of organic milk by taking out long-term contracts with dairy farmers while they convert to organic status, it announced on March 29. The move follows rapid increase in the supermarket’s sales of organic milk, which have grown by
three-quarters over the past year, with demand outstripping supply. Contact Pip Wood, J Sainsbury 020 7695 6127

Good buys
Raising debate on and developing guidance for businesses on responsible purchasing from overseas suppliers are the aims of a joint initiative between four European not-for-profits, funded by the European Commission. The group has published Responsible Purchasing, a consultation document to answer how purchasers can improve buying in ways that benefit both their businesses and their suppliers, considering the role of governments as well as companies.Sustainable businesses need good long-term suppliers, and unfair sourcing increases reputational risk says the report. Contact Traidcraft 020 7242 3955