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Is your Christmas dinner driving deforestation?

Food and gifts given at Christmas often contain ingredients linked to tropical deforestation

Ministers recently committed to introduce legislation designed to prevent goods being sold in the UK that are linked to the destruction of the Amazon and other tropical rainforests. Currently, these commodities end up in over half the products in our supermarkets.

This means that through the products consumed in homes across the UK this Christmas, we may all be unwittingly driving deforestation thousands of miles away. According to the Forest 500 initiative, which ranks companies on how they are dealing with deforestation in their supply chains, many of the items on your plate may be traced back to land that was previously tropical forest.

Commenting, Sarah Rogerson said:

“Tropical deforestation is driven by agricultural expansion to clear land for commodities like palm oil, beef and soy to meet growing global demand, including here in the UK. 

These commodities end up in so many of the everyday items we consume – so it is little surprise they can be found in a typical Christmas dinner.

This problem is so endemic that there aren’t always deforestation-free options readily available. That’s why we need tighter legislation, and more pressure on all companies to act.”

  • Turkey - Bernard Matthews – whose turkey products are eaten in one out of every two homes in Britain – is owned by Boparan Holdings who do not have a deforestation commitment and score 1/5 in our Forest 500 assessment.  
  • Pigs in blankets – Bacon and chipolatas are likely to contain hidden soy, fed to pigs. Aldi’s  pigs in blankets may be made with pork raised in the UK, but those pigs will have been fed on soy. Aldi does not have a commitment to source deforestation-free soy, and scores 2/5 in the Forest 500 assessment.
  • Cheese board - Popular brands such as President brie and St Agur may contain hidden deforestation as the President owners, Lactalis, and St Agur owners, Savencia do not have deforestation commitments, with Lactalis scoring 0/5. 
  • Brandy sauce – Like cheese, brandy sauce and other products containing dairy are likely to also contain hidden soy, fed to dairy cows, and because this soy is hidden its less likely to be covered by deforestation commitments.
  • Box of chocolates - Many chocolates contain hidden soy in the dairy ingredients, and chocolate manufacturers also must ensure their packaging is deforestation-free. Lindt & Sprungli, which makes Lindor chocolates and Lindt teddy bears, scores 2/5 in our Forest 500 assessment and has no commitment to ensure its paper-based packaging is deforestation-free.
  • Presents under the tree – This year, more people than ever have been shopping online. Online retail giant Amazon has seen its profits boom during the COVID pandemic, but the company has no deforestation commitment for its packaging and scores just 1/5 in our assessment.


Image: Lance Fisher via Flickr, creative commons licence

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