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Grieg Seafood commits to stop Brazilian deforestation. A new global fundraising initiative aims to stop soy-related deforestation of the Brazilian Cerrado, one of the largest deforestation frontiers in the world today. Grieg Seafood joins Tesco and Nutreco in announcing their commitment to the funding today and invites other global companies with Brazilian soy in their value chain to join in the initiative.

“Deforestation of the Brazilian Cerrado savannah leads to carbon emissions equivalent to 53 million cars annually. Soy cultivation is a key driver of deforestation in the Cerrado, an area recognized for its biodiversity and agricultural production. The Funding for Soy Farmers in the Cerrado Initiative will provide local soy farmers with financial incentives to expand soy cultivation in the Cerrado on existing agricultural areas. This will help protect the Cerrado’s forests and other natural habitats beyond what farmers already have to legally conserve under Brazil’s forest regulation,” says Andreas Kvame, CEO of the salmon farming company Grieg Seafood.

In addition to Grieg Seafood, the international retailer Tesco and animal feed manufacturer Nutreco have already committed to contribute to the Funding for Soy Farmers in the Cerrado Initiative each year for the next five years.

The Cerrado is one of the world’s most biodiverse dry forests, storing nearly 14 billion tonnes of carbon. The area is also crucial for preserving 40 percent of Brazil’s fresh water.

“Although the soy we use in our salmon feed is certified and deforestation-free in and of itself, Funding for Soy Farmers in the Cerrado gives us an opportunity to make a greater industry impact further back in our value chain. The idea behind the initiative is that businesses with Brazilian soy in their value chain can contribute with this funding. We hope many international companies will join us, both in and outside the salmon sector,” Kvame says.

Companies are encouraged to contribute according to consideration such as the size of their soy footprint. Grieg Seafood will contribute US$ 2 per tonne of soy the company uses annually in its fish feed for five years. In addition to businesses, foundations and governments are also invited to support the initiative financially.

Brazil’s forest regulation aims to balance forest protection with economic development. In the Cerrado, landowners are legally required to conserve 20-35 percent of their land. Without financial incentives, this leaves up to 80 percent of this land at risk of legal deforestation. At the same time, the Brazilian soy industry can more than double its current soy production without additional deforestation because there are already sufficient cleared agricultural areas suitable for soy cultivation. Many local soybean farmers are positive about growing on existing agricultural land if they receive financial incentives for the move.

The Funding for Soy Farmers in the Cerrado Initiative invites Brazilian soy stakeholders to lead the development of a financial mechanism that can disburse the funds in an effective and fair way that reaches the goal to halt soy-related deforestation in the Cerrado. Preliminary studies show that $ 250 million is needed to reach the goal.

Both investors and NGOs support the initiative: Aarti Ramachandran, head of Research and Engagement in the investor network FAIRR, with $ 20,1 trillion supporter AUM, said: “For over two years, investors, global corporations and local Brazilian organisations have joined forces to find workable solutions to protect the Cerrado biome from soy-related deforestation. The Funding for Soy Farmers in the Cerrado Initiative is a powerful example of how companies can provide the right incentives to enable farmers to go beyond regulation to conserve this precious biome, while securing their supply chains. We applaud this initiative and encourage other companies to contribute to this fund and for Brazilian actors to ensure its effective implementation to halt deforestation.”

Nils Hermann Ranum, head of the Zero deforestation programme of the Rainforest Foundation Norway, said: “It’s great to see companies are committing to help stop deforestation from soy in Brazil and demonstrate a willingness to contribute financially to this crucial goal. The world needs an effective mechanism to stop deforestation, combined with the companies pledging to buy soy exclusively from deforestation-free suppliers. If we are to succeed in our efforts to save the forest and stop climate change, it is crucial that companies with soy in their value chain take responsibility.”