A leading supply chain expert has suggested businesses should only partner with suppliers that share their sustainability values following a Greenpeace investigation that found the production of chickens for UK fast food chains and supermarkets is destroying forests across South America.
Chicken consumption is booming in the UK, but according to the report there is a “total failure” by high street brands to monitor where animal feed comes from.
The UK imports over three million tonnes of soya every year from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay to feed factory farmed animals and meeting this demand requires 1.4 million hectares of land – an area larger than Northern Ireland. Vast swathes of forest and wildlife-rich savannah in South America are therefore being destroyed to grow the crop.
The report said none of the companies surveyed could guarantee the soya they use for meat production was deforestation-free and named McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Nando’s and Subway among those who refused to disclose their meat sales or soya use altogether.
John Perry, managing director of supply chain and logistics consultancy Scala, said the report shows that even though companies face a growing expectation to transparently disclose information related to their supply chain and the practices of their partners, it remains difficult to provide total traceability.
“While information technology is improving all the time, it’s still likely to be only major companies that are able to trace the practices of their partners to the degree required for total transparency. If a supplier’s practices relating to human rights, labour standards or – as in this case – environmental protection are found to be sub-standard, it is the customer company that will be held to account.
“Businesses should therefore only partner with suppliers that share the same sustainability values and goals as they do, wherever possible. Establishing and communicating expectations through a supplier code of conduct is one of the most effective ways for businesses to involve their supply chain partners in their sustainability efforts.”
Mr Perry said that by working towards achieving greater transparency and ethical standards throughout their supply chain, businesses can both improve their environmental credentials and satisfy public demand for greater ethical and environmental awareness, in turn boosting their reputation and overall profitability.