Grieg calls out Cargill's contribution to Brazilian deforestation in Green Bond snub

Grieg Seafood has excluded Cargill Aqua Nutrition from will be excluded from receiving and proceeds from its Green Projects initiatives, including its first Green Bond issue, until its parent company significantly reduces the environment harm of its operations.

In its “Green Bond Framework,” published last month, the Bergen, Norway-headquartered salmon farming group stressed its decision to exclude Cargill Aqua Nutrition from the proceeds of its recently awarded NOK 1 billion (USD 106.7 million, EUR 94.2 million) Green Bond issue is specifically related to Cargill Inc.’s connection to soy-related deforestation in Brazil.

According to the document, net proceeds from Grieg Seafood’s Green Bonds will finance and refinance investments and related expenditures within the following Green Project categories: environmentally sustainable aquaculture, including the development and commercialization of novel feed ingredients; pollution prevention and control; water and wastewater management; and waste management.

The Green Bond has a maturity date of 25 June, 2025.

“As a company with Brazilian soy in our value chain, we are deeply concerned about the current developments in Brazil. Deforestation needs to be halted because we are in a climate crisis, and also because we must protect the biodiversity of these forests,” Grieg Global Communications Manager Kristina Furnes told SeafoodSource. “I want to emphasize that the issue here has nothing to do with Cargill Aqua Nutrition, who we consider a good partner. The issue is the current lack of progress on [the] ground in Brazil to end soy-related deforestation, and Cargill Inc.’s connection to that. In addition to our ethical concerns, we are unfortunately in a situation where being a customer of and in a partnership with Cargill Aqua Nutrition is a reputational challenge, due to the ownership connection to Brazil. Both customers, investors and NGOs care about this issue, as was evident during the Green Bond process.”

What Grieg wants is for the Cerrado Working Group process to get back together and for it to launch and implement the agreement under discussion – to end soy-related deforestation of the Brazilian Cerrado, Furnes explained.

“It is possible to combine a halt to soy related deforestation with growth in the Brazilian soy industry, as soy expansion can take place on already cleared agricultural land. However, we recognize that financial incentives are needed for the farmers for this transition to take place, and together with Tesco and Nutreco, we have started raising these funds through the Cerrado Funding Coalition,” Furnes said. “We are in dialogue with Cargill on the issue and they are signaling progress so we hope that the deforestation risk will be resolved. What we need for that to happen is action.”   

Meanwhile, Cargill informed SeafoodSource that 100 percent of the soy that its Aqua Nutrition business purchases for its salmon feeds is ProTerra-, RTRS-, or organic-certified, while the broader Cargill business has made significant progress in sustainable soy sourcing.

“At Cargill, we are committed to transforming our supply chains to be deforestation-free while protecting native vegetation beyond forests. We know there is work to be done – and we’re accelerating our efforts in this area, including a focus on innovative solutions that are economically viable for farmers,” Cargill Protein and Animal Health Media Relations Director Daniel Sullivan said. “Every day we are working to make progress with our partners, including farmers, customers, NGOs, government agencies, and industry forums. Close collaboration with each of these groups is at the heart of the South American Soy Action Plan.”

Sullivan said that since publishing its first Sustainable Soy Report six months ago, Cargill has made meaningful progress in the following areas:

  • Mapping 100 percent of its Brazilian supply chain with georeferenced single points – completing the project six months ahead of schedule;
  • For the first time, calculating the estimated share of its soy in Brazil grown on land that is deforestation- and conversion-free. By analyzing data from external sources about crop growth and changes in land use, it found that 95.68 percent of its soy met the criteria;
  • Expanded its direct engagement with farmers in Brazil, including the launch of a new partnership with the largest farmer association in the state of Bahia;
  • Continued the growth of its Sustainably Sourced and Supplied certification program in Brazil and Paraguay, providing a large market for soybeans grown through verified sustainable methods.

The company has also upheld the Brazilian Soy Moratorium in the Amazon since 2006, and remains committed to finding lasting solutions for protecting forests and native vegetation in the Cerrado, Sullivan said.

“Cargill’s work is centered on eliminating deforestation and protecting native vegetation beyond forests, while taking into account social and economic implications in these farming communities,” Sullivan said. “Cargill – along with our industry, farmers, local governments, and customers – all have accountability for transforming the food supply chain, and we are engaging with stakeholders every day to make progress.”

Photo courtesy of PARALAXIS/Shutterstock 


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