Bakery and snack leviathans Grupo Bimbo, General Mills, PepsiCo and Nestlé team up to tackle deforestation

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

A new Consumer Goods Coalition has been formed to accelerate systemic efforts to remove deforestation from key commodity supply chains. Pic: GettyImages/wildpixel
A new Consumer Goods Coalition has been formed to accelerate systemic efforts to remove deforestation from key commodity supply chains. Pic: GettyImages/wildpixel

Related tags: Grupo bimbo, General mills, Pepsico, Nestlé, Consumer goods forum, Climate Week, deforestation, Forest Positive Coalition of Action, Supply chain, Palm oil

The four giants – along with a rash of other consumer goods conglomerates – have created a Coalition dedicated to tackling deforestation, forest degradation and land conversion in supply chains.

CEOs of the companies will oversee the Forest Positive Coalition of Action – launched by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) to mark Climate Week NYC (September 21-27, 2020).

The 17 companies to enlist – representing a whopping collective market value of $1.8 trillion – include Mexican bakery giant Grupo Bimbo; breakfast cereal leaders General Mills and Nestlé; snack goliath PepsiCo; Oreo maker Mondelēz International; confectioner Mars, retail leviathans Carrefour, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Walmart; along with Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Essity, Jeronimo Martins, METRO, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Unilever.

A world without deforestation and land degradation

Each has committed to uphold four actions that will help drive transformative change to ultimately reach the goal of operating completely deforestation- and conversion-free.

The first is to engage with suppliers and traders across the value chains of key forest-related commodities – such as palm oil, soy, and paper, pulp and fibre-based packaging – to implement ‘forest positive business practices’.

Secondly, to focus on areas the Coalition has the strongest impact: the commodities it knows best; the production methods that can influence change; and the key production landscapes that need immediate action, such as Brazil, China, the EU and Indonesia.

There are several drivers of deforestation and while the private sector can make a big impact in stopping them, they cannot do it alone. So, the third pillar is to connect with governments – both in producer nations and importing nations – to promote the introduction of stronger legislation to protect forests and the livelihood of workers across the supply chain.

Recently, for example, the UK Government proposed legislation​ that mandates large companies to prove their supply chains are deforestation-free or else face hefty fines for non-compliance.

The third prong also means collaborating with NGOs and civil society to implement participatory strategies.

Finally, members have committed to transparency and accountability, joining forces with other members as a pre-competitive issue and to report on progress regularly and publicly.

Confirming commitments are correctly placed

To ensure that the Coalition’s activities are on point and do not create unintended negative consequences, the CGF said it will engage with a plethora of players, activists, community groups and innovative start-ups and scale-ups.

“Deforestation continues to be a critical issue facing our planet today. Our event at New York Climate Week [showcases] exactly how our Coalition is committed to on-the-ground actions that deliver impact at scale and will explain how we intend to be successful,”​ said Wai-Chan Chan, MD of the Consumer Goods Forum.

“We are also bringing a variety of voices to the table to ensure we engage from the get-go and effectively listen to the concerns of those fighting to mainstream the issue of deforestation and who support nature-based, innovative solutions.

“We are in this fight together".

The founding of the Coalition comes amid reports that deforestation in the Amazon has dramatically increased since the outbreak of the pandemic, despite massive lockdowns sweeping the globe.

According to WWF, deforestation was up 150% in March 2020 compared to the average figures for March 2017, 2018 and 2019. It is believed those clearing land have been taking advantage of reduced patrols.

Sponsorship for the Coalition’s activities is being jointly provided by Mars, Carrefour and the CGF.

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