VF Corp suspends purchases of Brazilian leather

Brazil
Published:  03 September, 2019

The U.S. headquartered global footwear giant has suspended its orders to Brazilian tanneries until the fires cease across the Amazon, while other companies such as Nestlé are allegedly ‘re-evaluating’ their purchases of meat and cocoa from Brazil.

VF Corp said it will suspend its purchases of leather from Brazil until "the confidence and assurance that the materials used in our products do not contribute to environmental harm in the country". Allegedly, after the Brazilian media relayed the information that several international brands and companies, including VF Corp which owns Timberland, The North Face and Vans, had halted their orders, José Fernando Bello, President, Centre for the Brazilian Tanning Industry (CICB), refuted the information and said that orders for exports continue as normal and some international buyers had asked for a confirmation of the origins and traceability of the leathers. Read more here.

On August 29, Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, announced a ban on burning trees for 60 days. Despite the decree, an estimated 4,000 outbreaks were detected by Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (Inpe) in the two days that followed the prohibition, of which around 2,000 allegedly in the Amazon rainforest. According to Inpe, the Amazon fires detected in August were three times higher than that recorded in the same month last year.

Companies in other sectors are also said to be ‘reevaluating’ purchases from Brazil. It is claimed that Switzerland headquartered Nestlé is currently reviewing its purchase of meat and cocoa from the South American country. The food giant wants to ensure that the products it imports from Brazil do not contribute to the destruction of the Amazon and said it will take “corrective action” if it catches suppliers violating its standards.

On September 2, the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp) brought together 40 CEOs from international companies that operate in the country, including from LVMH, Alstom and Mercedes Benz, during which Paulo Skaf, President, Fiesp, sought to clarify the situation in the Amazon. “To outsiders the impression is that Brazil is on fire. And this is not the reality. It is a normal that fires occur in the Cerrado (a type of scrubland) biome”, said Skaf. Fiesp's data showed that 49% of this biome are located in areas protected by law and the average, legal Amazon's deforestation has fallen from 12,600 sq km over the past 20 years to 6,500 sq km over the past ten years.

“The aim was to show to the large corporations, and to inform their headquarters, that there is a difference between deforestation and burning. Deforestation has declined, while the burns are traditional and have ups and downs due to the rains. We have a reserve of 4.2 million sq km preserved in the region, which represents half of the Brazilian territory”, said Skaf.  

Sources: Exame/O Globo