Ahold Delhaize has joined 22 other leading retailers and food companies to endorse a letter of support for the Cerrado Manifesto, a global pledge to work toward halting forest loss associated with soybean production and cattle expansion in the Cerrado, a vast tropicalsavanna in Brazil.
The announcement was made on October 25 during a high-level summit in London that focused on creating deforestation-free commodity and supply chains by 2020. In addition to Ahold Delhaize, companies signing the statement included among others Carrefour, Colgate Palmolive, Kellogg, McDonald’s, Nestle, Tesco, Unilever and Walmart.
"We are making a commitment to help protect the Cerrado, which is Brazil's second largest biome after the Amazon," said Jan Ernst de Groot, Ahold Delhaize Chief Legal Officer and responsible for Product Integrity. "This is a key step toward developing sustainable sourcing strategies in partnership with local and international stakeholders."
The businesses "recognize the critical importance of the Cerrado for its role in climate change mitigation, as a repository for biodiversity, as the source of many of Brazil’s fresh water systems, and additionally as a production region for the agricultural commodities used in our products," the two-page letter of support says. "However, we also recognize the extent and pace of native vegetation loss resulting from cattle and soy expansion in the Cerrado poses a significant threat to these social, environmental and economic values."
Recent research indicates the availability of substantial areas of already cleared land. "It is increasingly clear that development need not be incompatible with the protection of globally important landscapes," the letter continues.
It concludes that the 23 companies collectively "seek to collaborate to develop the policies needed to steer all actors towards a more sustainable land use pathway, and the monitoring and verification systems to give us confidence that our actions are having the desired outcome of protecting the unique landscape of the Cerrado."
Read the complete letter of support here.