Ahold Delhaize, the parent company of Albert Heijn and bol.com, and 38 other companies threaten to leave Brazil if the Brazilian government passes a controversial bill.
The companies report this in a letter on Wednesday.
"But that is really the last step," a spokesperson told NU.nl.
The controversy revolves around a law that legalizes illegally deforested areas so that they can be turned into agricultural land.
"If that happens, we will go three steps back in the fight against deforestation. Because then there is a good chance that more people will cut down, because it is now allowed", Ahold Delhaize says.
Ahold Delhaize does not have any stores in Brazil, but does source products such as lettuce soy from there.
For three years now, the chain has not been getting anything from the Amazon rainforest, on which the bill has the greatest impact, but from other areas in Brazil that may also suffer from the new law.
'Withdrawal brings difficulties'
In the letter, the companies say they have no choice but to "reconsider our support for and use of Brazilian agriculture if the law or similar measures are passed."
This may mean that the companies will withdraw completely, but according to Ahold Delhaize that is not yet the case.
"That poses two problems. Firstly, we will no longer have access to a lot of products, but secondly, we are no longer at the table with the Brazilian government and we can no longer put pressure to improve the situation there. . "
No concrete measures in mind yet
The group has not yet thought about concrete measures, "because it is much too early for that", but according to the spokesperson it could, for example, choose to grow certain soy in other, more sustainable, places. "If all the companies that have signed the letter do that, it will mean a lot less income for the country." He says that the law has been quietly put on the table and that the signers of the letter have been taken by surprise.
Environmental organizations question the good intentions of the companies. The environmental organization Mighty Earth informs the NOS that it is happy that the companies are speaking out against deforestation, but does not expect many concrete actions. "Again, these are tough words from Ahold Delhaize and other supermarkets. But even without that one law, deforestation continues. Unfortunately, the only language that the Brazilian government and multinationals know behind this deforestation is actual action." it sounds.