Businesses to Drive Green Transition of China’s Beef, Paper, Palm Oil and Soy Supply Chains

The World Economic Forum’s Tropical Forest Alliance has today launched a new taskforce to drive a sustainable transition across soft commodity supply chains in China – the world’s largest importer of soy, beef and second-largest importer of palm oil.

The Taskforce on Green Value Chains for China, launched at the Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, will encourage global supply chain actors who enter China’s market to alleviate deforestation caused by soybeans, palm oil, beef, pulp and paper and other commodities. This includes governments, producers, traders and retailers.

Market leaders operating in China – Bunge, Cargill, China Mengniu Dairy, L’Oréal, Nestlé – have signed up to the taskforce. The consumer goods companies have a combined annual revenue of nearly 240 billion CNY generated within the China market, while the commodity traders account for almost 40% of grain trade to the China market. The taskforce has the potential to be a catalyst for change across global supply chains, given the level of China’s soft commodity trade.

It aims to strengthen cross-market collaboration, focusing on the following four aspects:

  • Improving information sharing and fostering a common understanding across supply chains
  • Engagement with the public sector to create an enabling policy environment
  • Empowering consumers to make sustainable purchases through increased public awareness
  • Encouraging partnerships with producer countries.

The taskforce will be supported by the multistakeholder community convened by Tropical Forest Alliance. It will pilot projects designed to analyse the carbon contributions and risk assessment of deforestation-free consumer goods to validate and quantify the impact supported by delegated professional services partners. These activities enable China to effectively track its contribution and role in global climate change combat.

This taskforce builds on ongoing actions to make China’s supply chains more sustainable, including through forest-positive dialogues and partnerships with other leading markets, particularly the EU, US and Brazil.

Jack Hurd, Executive Director, Tropical Forest Alliance, World Economic Forum, said: “This new landmark taskforce will unite actors across China’s supply chains in a shared commitment to protect the planet’s forests and transition the production of agro-commodities towards a more sustainable model.”

“Given the significance of China’s market, this taskforce has the potential to be a game-changer in the fight against commodity-driven deforestation. Market leaders are already signing up to it, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact that this initiative has on the region’s supply chains, including through strengthening partnerships with producer countries.”

Liming Chen, Chair of Greater China, World Economic Forum, said: “The global economy is at a pivotal moment of transformation. The mission of the taskforce is expected to bolster the security of our value chains while advancing China’s transition towards a net-zero and nature-positive future. This endeavour holds great promise for integrating economic progress with ecological conservation, a principle at the heart of our shared global vision.”

Jeffery Lu Minfang, Chief Executive Officer, Mengniu Group, said: “Forests nurture life and conserve soil and are an indispensable component of many ecosystems. Protecting forests is crucial for addressing climate change and maintaining biodiversity. The establishment of the taskforce is a very good start, and Mengniu sincerely hopes to work with more and more industry partners in the future to promote the green transformation of the value chain and safeguard the common health of people and planet.”

Fabrice Megarbane, President, L’Oréal North Asia and Chief Executive Officer, L’Oréal China, said: “Sustainability is not an option but a must. Transforming whole value chains is fundamental to ensure we respect our planetary boundaries.”

Chris Tou, General Manager, Bunge China, said: “Food must be underpinned by responsible supply chains. We fight deforestation by employing advanced traceability and monitoring systems in high-priority regions of the world and engaging with our suppliers. We have built the infrastructure to move food efficiently from where there is surplus to where it is needed, serving farmers and customers on both ends of the value chain.”

About the Tropical Forest Alliance

The Tropical Forest Alliance brings together business, government and civil society partners to drive the world’s transition to deforestation-free supply chains. During COP26, it facilitated the process for 14 agricultural commodity companies to work with governments, farmers and other key stakeholders to help stop commodity-driven deforestation (i.e. soy, palm oil, beef, etc.).