Brazil's JBS SA went on the offensive late Wednesday afternoon over what it says were false and misleading claims by Greenpeace in a report released that morning, and said it will take legal action against the NGO to help repair the processor's image.
In a lengthy response shared with media and the market at large, JBS highlighted eight blacklisted Brazilian farms that it was accused of buying cattle from, and detailed how Greenpeace's claims were wrong.
The mistakes JBS says it found range from Greenpeace allegedly getting dates wrong on when JBS purchased meat (like with Fazenda Flor da Mata and Tesouro Vienense, sanctioned in 2011 after JBS last bought from them), to three farms JBS says aren't really blacklisted by environmental institute Ibama, and even the Santa Rita de Cassia farm that JBS says Greenpeace mixed up with another farm of the same name, but located in another town.
Greenpeace claimed that JBS supplied canned meat products to customers in Holland and the UK from what it said was a JBS production plant, Pampeano Alimentos, in Rio Grande do Sul state.
That plant is actually owned by Marfrig, JBS says, though it did supply raw meat to Marfrig's plant from a JBS facility in Mato Grosso state.
British grocery chain Tesco canceled its meat contract with JBS Wednesday following the Greenpeace report, and other EU-based retailers were said to be considering cutting ties with the processor .
“Every customer has their reasons for making the decisions they make, and we respect them all,” Jerry O'Callaghan, investor relations director, told Meatingplace in response to Tesco.
“We haven't had any relevant issues with our major customers, and we feel we won't have any issues.
The group of products we sell into the retail sector of the UK is a declining group, canned and cooked, a small portion of our business.”
JBS' commercial relationship with ranchers is limited to those in the final phase of finishing cattle, and it says it monitors those partners closely.
But JBS said it and any other processor in Brazil can't monitor indirect suppliers, like ranchers of young cattle, until Brazil has a complete traceability system.
JBS says it had asked Greenpeace to reevaluate this point in the written agreement it has on file with the NGO.
“Based on the clarity of the points raised here, JBS believes that the document disclosed by Greenpeace today does not in any way enhance discussions around issues related to sustainability in the beef supply chain in Brazil,” O'Callaghan said in a statement.
“The accusations are false, frivolous, unfounded and do not demonstrate the required impartiality on the part of Greenpeace to advance discussions around a theme of such relevance.”
JBS said it has more than 500 employees working directly in sustainability activities in Brazil, which include its sustainable beef supply chain programs, satellite monitoring system of rural properties in the Amazon, carbon credit projects registered with the UN, biodiesel production, residue recycling and programs to reduce greenhouse gases and water usage at facilities.
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