Tesco once again targeted by FoE
has been criticised once again by Friends of the Earth, which
claimed that the chain had grown at the expense of both the
environment and the UK farming community.
Friends of the Earth, the environmental protection group, has been gunning for UK market leader Tesco for some time, contributing among others to the debate on whether the company should be allowed to bid for rival Safeway.
The latest broadside from FoE came last week, when the organisation published a report to coincide with the retailer's annual shareholder meeting and which it claimed showed that the company was failing to meet its social responsibilities.
Friends of the Earth's argument was supported by individual farmers and representatives from Bananalink, Corporate Watch, farm, Grassroots Action for Food and Farming, the Small and Family Farms Alliance, and the National Sheep Association in the UK, all of whom expressed their concerns about the way the supermarket giant behaves.
The FoE report includes personal responses from farmers, who claim that Tesco has boosted profits at the expense of farmers, and who argue that this has affected environmental and animal welfare standards.
The report also highlights the alleged environmental impacts of Tesco's global business - with fruit and vegetables flown around the world, increasing the need for packaging and contributing to climate change, for example - and questions whether Tesco's Healthy Living range is as healthy as Tesco suggests.
Tesco is being targeted because of the power it wields as the largest UK supermarket with 1,982 stores in the UK, according to FoE. Friends of the Earth Real Food Campaigner Sandra Bell said: "Tesco claims to be committed to UK farming and to protecting the environment. But the reality is that it profits at the expense of farmers' and the environment. It is time fat cats like Terry Leahy [Tesco's CEO] were forced to face their responsibilities to stakeholders and be held accountable for the damage their companies cause."
Friends of the Earth is calling for changes in company law to force companies to be accountable to stakeholders as well as shareholders, with duties placed on directors to recognise these rights.
Tesco has always defended itself rigorously against FoE and other campaigners, stressing its commitment to helping rural and other small communities across the UK by providing them with lower-priced food and increasing the amount of produce it buys from local producers.