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Image credit: JBS

Brief: World’s largest meat producer JBS appeals against challenge to net zero claims

February 21, 2023

  • The world’s biggest animal protein producer JBS is appealing a recommendation to stop making some of its climate claims.
  • The BBB National Programs National Advertising Division (NAD) recommends JBS “discontinue claims relating to its goal of achieving ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.”
  • The recommendation is part of a challenge brought forth by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) non-profit.

Why it matters:

NAD says aspirational claims create expectations in consumers. Companies must therefore be able to demonstrate that their goals are not simply “illusory” by providing evidence of steps taken towards those goals.

NAD and IATP challenge the following JBS claims:

  • “JBS is committing to be net zero by 2040”
  • “Global Commitment to Achieve Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2040”
  • “Bacon, chicken wings and steak with net zero emissions. It’s possible”
  • “Leading change across the food industry and achieving our goal of net zero by 2040 will be a challenge. Anything less is not an option.”

JBS announced its net zero by 2040 goal in March 2021. The plan includes spending $1 billion over the next 10 years on “emissions reductions projects,” making its cattle supply chain free of deforestation and allocating $100 million to research for emissions mitigation solutions.

NAD said that despite “evidence of a significant preliminary investment” towards reducing emission, JBS’ record doesn’t support its broader claim that it “has a plan” to achieve net zero by 2040.

JBS also claims “the SBTi [Science Based Targets initiative] recognized the Net Zero Commitment of JBS.”

Currently SBTi’s website lists JBS as “committed” to net zero. However, this is the first item in a five-step process, and merely establishes “intent to set a science-based target.” As NAD points out, no concrete strategy has yet been approved. Companies have 24 months after their initial commitment letter to submit a target to SBTi.

In April 2022, the IATP and Mighty Earth jointly published a report claiming JBS’ emissions increased by 51% in five years. JBS said the report uses “erroneous methodology” and “gross data deviations.”

Calls to end greenwashing grow louder as more companies make claims around sustainability and emissions reductions.

At COP27 last year, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that some climate claims had “loopholes wide enough to drive a diesel truck through.”

“We must have zero tolerance for net-zero greenwashing,” he added.

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