Climate activists with Greenpeace have targeted Tesco stores in Twickenham in a campaign to highlight the links between the meat industry and global deforestation.

On Wednesday (June 2) stencilled graffiti appeared at the threshold of Tesco stores at St Margaret's Road and Heath Road in Twickenham.

In coloured chalk letters, the message 'Tesco meat = deforestation' was painted by members of Kingston and Richmond Greenpeace in a move the activists said highlighted the damaging links between the meat industry and the destruction of forests around the world.

Greenpeace have accused Tesco of having links to deforestation is some of the world's most important ecosystems including the Amazon rainforest in south America.

Your Local Guardian: Image: Kingston and Richmond GreenpeaceImage: Kingston and Richmond Greenpeace

Jonathan, a Greenpeace campaigner from Richmond, said: "We’ve given Tesco plenty of time to respond to our demand to drop forest destroyers from their supply chain, and replace half the meat Tesco sells with plant-based food by 2025, but so far they don’t seem to be getting the message that industrial meat is bad for our planet.

"That’s why Greenpeace volunteers decided to give CEO Ken Murphy a friendly reminder that Tesco meat = deforestation outside Twickenham branches."

Climate activists have frequently pointed not only to cattle ranching but also the growing of soya on deforested land that is then used to feed livestock for the meat industry.

Indeed, a new report published by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism last month showed that the Amazon rainforest is "being burnt to make way for soya to feed the world’s livestock" despite legislation designed to prevent the practice.

And while Tesco no longer buy meat from Brazil, Greenpeace said last year that the supermarket giant still profit from deforestation in the Amazon by alleging that the meat on their shelves is fed by Brazlian soya "produced by companies owned by Amazon rainforest destroyers".

"These companies are Moy Park and Tulip, two UK meat producers who are owned by JBS. JBS is the world’s biggest meat processor and has been repeatedly linked to deforestation in the Amazon, as well as human rights violations," one Greenpeace statement from August 2020 read.

Tesco for its part has sought to improve its green credentials in recent years amid an escalating climate crisis and growing public support for a green transition away from systems that rely on fossil fuels, deforestation and environmental destruction.

As a spokesperson for Tesco pointed out in response to a query from the RTT:

"We share Greenpeace’s aim to end deforestation in the Amazon.

"It’s why we’ve set challenging public targets committing to zero deforestation, it’s why we’ve committed to a 300 per cent increase in the sales of plant-based meat alternatives, why we don’t sell Brazilian beef and why we support action to ensure all food sold in the UK is deforestation-free."

However, Greenpeace continue to accuse the company's efforts to improve its environmental credentials as "greenwashing", as Jonathan added, referencing Tesco CEO Ken Murphy who has led the drive to bolster the company's environmental image:

"For Ken Murphy to talk about why the food sector needs collective action on climate change, but not to mention that soya-fed, industrially farmed pigs, cows or chickens exacerbate this problem, is like failing to mention the role of the iceberg in the sinking of the Titanic.

"Tesco sells hundreds and thousands of tonnes of industrial meat, much of it produced by companies owned by rainforest-destroyers JBS.

"Mr Murphy must commit to replacing half the meat Tesco sells with plant-based food by 2025.

"If he’s still unclear as to why meat = deforestation he’s welcome to join us at our next Greenpeace Kingston and Richmond Group meeting and we’ll happily talk him through it," Jonathan said.