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Companies failing to address deforestation risk in leather supply chains

cattle from above in Brazil

Global Canopy Press Release

Immediate release: 13 August 2019

Retail and manufacturing companies buying leather from China need to do more to ensure they are not driving rising deforestation levels in Brazil, according to a new briefing published today by Global Canopy [1].

Global Canopy examined the deforestation policies of 43 companies involved in the trade in beef and leather from Brazil via China, including well-known sports brands such as Adidas and Nike, car manufacturers such as BMW, Volkswagen and General Motors, and furniture retailers such as DFS.

Around half of Brazil’s leather exports are used by the global car industry for seats and interiors.

Global Canopy’s analysis found that none of the identified companies manufacturing and selling leather goods appeared to be able to guarantee that its leather supply chain was not linked to deforestation.

This is because 12/15 of the manufacturing and retail companies identified were found to be sourcing leather products from companies in China who did not have a zero deforestation commitment, or were manufacturing products in China with leather sourced from companies with no deforestation commitment. These companies in turn sourced some of their supplies from companies in Brazil who did not have a commitment in place [2].

In some cases, this was despite the retailing companies having made public commitments to remove deforestation from their supply chains.

Just three of the Brazilian companies supplying leather to China had a deforestation commitment, but in each case this only applied to deforestation in the Amazon region, and not to other important areas such as the Cerrado.

Commenting on the research, Global Canopy researcher and co-author of the briefing, André Vasconcelos said:

“The companies we have identified in these supply chains are exposed to deforestation risks and can play an important role in helping make global trade more sustainable.

“To do this, companies right across the supply chain must recognise their contribution to global demand, the impact of that demand on deforestation, and the knock on effects on the climate and on biodiversity."

The analysis found that most of the beef exported from Brazil to China remained in China but was also potentially linked to deforestation. Just three of the companies exporting beef were found to have a deforestation commitment.

Contact: Helen Burley, email:


[1] Hidden deforestation in the Brazil - China beef and leather trade, Global Canopy, August 2019. See:

[2] To explore the links between the companies involved in the beef and leather supply chains connecting China to Brazil, see: