Brazil's JBS says it uses satellites to monitor cattle suppliers

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA is seen in the unit in the city of Jundiai, Brazil June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The world’s largest meatpacker JBS SA is closely monitoring the origin of the cattle it buys in Brazil amid heightened concerns about environmental preservation and sustainable business practices, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Speaking at an industry event in São Paulo, JBS Chief Executive Gilberto Tomazoni said the company is using satellite technology to monitor a 450,000 square-km (280,000 square mile) area of Brazil to guarantee it is not buying cattle from deforested areas.

“We need to offer what the consumer wants. We cannot do that without worrying about the environment and animal welfare,” Tomazoni said. “This is fundamental to our business.”

The executive noted a new generation of consumers believe that “modern agriculture” destroys the planet. He called that perception misguided given that such up-to-date methods allow JBS and others to produce more food with far fewer resources.

His remarks come as fires burning in parts of the Amazon rainforest have sparked a global outcry against Brazil for allegedly failing to protect what is widely viewed as a key bulwark against global climate change.

Last month, local media reported JBS had been buying cattle from ranchers operating on deforested land in the Amazon, a claim denied by the company, which is the world’s largest producer of beef, chicken and leather products.

In a statement sent to Reuters, however, JBS admitted at the time that surveying indirect cattle suppliers was challenging due to a lack of public databases that would allow development of a proper monitoring system.

Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Christian Plumb and Chris Reese