Media Releases - 24 October 2019

Beyond the Amazon: Assessment of supply chain deforestation risks in Australia

Update 2023: The Uncovered Corporate Deforestation Benchmark has launched. Each bulletin analyses the publicly available commitments of influential companies in industries associated with deforestation in Australia.

  • The global push towards deforestation-free supply chains has been given further impetus by the recent Amazon forest fires.
  • The Wilderness Society has conducted the first ever assessment of deforestation-free policies and practices in companies within the Australian beef supply chain - from producer to retailer. The report was released on Channel 10’s The Project last night.
  • The Australian Beef & Deforestation Corporate Scorecard covers companies including: McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks, Subway, Coles, Woolworth’s, Aldi, JBS Australia, Teys Australia/Cargill, AACo and Paraway Pastoral.
  • Australia is the only developed economy among 11 global deforestation fronts and the Wilderness Society has identified that 73% of all deforestation in Queensland is linked to beef production.

The Wilderness Society’s National Nature Campaigner and report co-author, Jessica Panegyres, provides the following comments on the release of the Australian Beef & Deforestation Corporate Scorecard report.

“The recent Amazon fires caught the attention of world leaders and the public alike. The global push towards deforestation-free supply chains that began many years ago, now has a new sense of urgency.

“Australia has recently been identified as a global deforestation hotspot alongside places like the Amazon, the Congo and Borneo. Queensland is driving high rates of deforestation and the major driver of this deforestation is beef production. We conducted an assessment of the deforestation-free policies within major producers, processors and retailers, and found that while many acknowledged the problem, none had effective policies in place.

“Retailers were more advanced than suppliers or producers in their deforestation-free policies with McDonalds having the strongest policy. However, no company had implemented their policies to a level where consumers could be guaranteed that when they purchased beef that it hadn’t come from recently cleared forests or bushland.

“Australian supermarkets are well behind retailers in other comparable economies in their deforestation-free policies. For instance many supermarkets and fast food outlets in the US and the UK have adopted deforestation-free sourcing policies.

“At present, customers simply have no way of knowing if the beef they are buying is linked to deforestation in Australia. While it is encouraging to see that some companies acknowledging the problem and that they can be part of the solution, there needs to be more.

“Australians have a history of being discerning consumers. They’ve pushed for plastic bag bans, free range eggs, dolphin-free tuna and Easter eggs that aren’t made with unsustainable palm oil. But when it comes to deforestation in Australia, consumers are in the dark.

“In association with this corporate scorecard, the Wilderness Society has also released an analysis of satellite data that shows that an overwhelming majority of land under beef production in Queensland is already deforestation-free. 80% of land under beef production in the last 5 years had no clearing of mature forest and 68% was completely deforestation-free.

“In fact, a very small number of landholdings are responsible for much of the forest and bushland loss. Large-scale land-clearing is only occurring on 4% of landholdings showing that a small minority is providing the risk for the wider industry.

The Wilderness Society will be encouraging our supporters to write to the CEO’s of major retail and fast food chains selling beef in Australia - including Coles, Woolworths, McDonalds, Hungry Jacks - and asking them to publicly commit to eliminate deforestation from their products,” Jessica Panegyres concluded.


For further information or comment contact Jess Panegyres on 0424090396.

Furthermore, McDonalds, Aldi, Coles and Woolworths provided written statements to The Project and they can be found here