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Understanding the Challenge

Beef production is the leading driver of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest, and the Cerrado wooded savannah South and East of the Amazon. These areas are two of the most bio-diverse biomes in the world, and play critical roles in the global climate. Brazil is the second largest producer on beef (after the USA), and the top global exporter since 2004. Brazil is the world’s fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases; nearly half of Brazil’s emissions are from land use change and forestry (LUCF). The growth of the cattle sector in Brazil has had an increasing impact on the Amazon as cattle production has shifted to that region, leading to increased deforestation levels in both regions.

Demand for beef continues to grow globally, and with the world’s population expected surpass nine billion by 2050, this increasing demand shows no sign of slowing. It is vital that beef is, therefore, produced sustainably, as it not only uses lots of water, energy and land, it is also responsible for large amounts of waste. 

With the global population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050 and income levels rising, demand for beef is increasing and will only grow. Yet beef production requires a lot of land, water and energy, and generates considerable waste. It is thus essential to improve its sustainability globally. And, when done properly, beef production can bring many benefits.

As stated by the WWF, “there are many ways beef production—when sustainably managed—can achieve conservation benefits. Grazing maintains the health of grasslands, improves soil quality with manure, and preserves open space and wildlife habitat. Additionally, carbon is sequestered in the grasses and soils of grazing lands. Beef production also provides social benefits by sustaining livelihoods and community vibrancy in rural areas where grasslands dominate”.

“We recognise the critical importance of the Cerrado for its role in climate change mitigation, as a repository for biodiversity, as the source of many of Brazil’s fresh water systems, and  additionally as a production region for the agricultural commodities used in our products. However, we also recognise the extent and pace of native vegetation loss resulting from cattle and soy expansion in the Cerrado poses a significant threat to these social, environmental and economic values”.

Extract from “Statement of Support for the Objectives of the Cerrado Manifesto”
(signed by 18 CGF member companies)

Improving Sourcing Globally

CGF members agree that all beef should be produced sustainably and should not negatively impact forests and their surrounding environments. They will work with suppliers and continue efforts to improve their supply chains. 

All of our members who source beef from Brazil are encouraged to support the Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef (GRSB). We will also encourage the GRSB to build links with the Leather Roundtable. 

In 2017, we also contributed to the development of a statement supporting the Cerrado Manifesto, which specifically references cattle as an area of concern. 23 companies signed the statement, 18 of whom are active CGF members. As part of the statement, members aligned on the need to support the objectives defined in the Cerrado Manifesto and commit to working with local and international stakeholders to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in the Cerrado.