4th September 2012
Adidas finally starts to kick cruelty out of football
Company pledges to reduce use of kangaroo skin by 98 per cent over the next 12 months
Having cleared UK supermarket shelves of kangaroo meat, UK-based Viva! then turned its attention to kangaroo leather, attacking Adidas for its use in top-of-the-range football boots. Viva! has worked closely with the AWPC (Australian Wildlife Protection Council) and both organisations have issued a guarded joint congratulation to the German giant for its ethical decision to move away from the use of wildlife in its global business. They say the move will save thousands of these animals from being shot and spare their babies from the barbarity of being clubbed to death.
The move was confirmed by the Co-operative Asset Management (an institutional investor with a significant number of shares in Adidas) in their Responsible Investment Annual Review 2011/2012 (published Tuesday, September 4). The Co-operative Asset Managements Responsible Investment team made their concerns about the continuing use of kangaroo leather clear to the company:
We engaged with Adidas in connection with their continued use of kangaroo leather. We noted positively the successful transition of the Predator range that no longer contains kangaroo leather and that within the next 12 months Adidas will have reduced their sourcing volume for kangaroo leather by 98 per cent. (1)
The move follows news from the kangaroo industry in Australia last year (2) which revealed that Adidas, and other large football boot manufacturers, were reducing its use because of concerns over cruelty and pressure from animal lovers. However, this is the first time that Adidas have committed to a timescale to reduce their use of kangaroo skins. Viva! and AWPC are reiterating their calls for kangaroo skin to banished entirely from football and will be encouraging Adidas to drop the last 2 per cent of kangaroo skin they intend to use.
Viva!s long-running campaign and boycott against Adidas persuaded David Beckham to drop his kangaroo leather boots in 2006 (3). The campaign was bolstered earlier this year by mass letter writing to Adidas by Viva! supporters. AWPCs recent campaign to have products made from kangaroo banned across the EU has attracted significant support. Both campaigns are believed to have helped prompt the change.
This move by the worlds biggest football boot manufacturers will help stop the bloodshed that has plagued Australias Outback for the past decade. Millions of adult kangaroos are shot each year for their meat and skin and it is estimated that around 885,000 baby kangaroos (joeys) and dependent young are decapitated, shot or beaten to death every year, then discarded as waste (4). Official Australian figures show that kangaroo populations in Australia are still significantly reduced compared to ten year ago (5).
Viva!s founder and director, Juliet Gellatley, launched the Save the Kangaroo in Britain in 1997. She says, The slaughter of kangaroos is the worlds biggest massacre of terrestrial wildlife, carried out by a country with the worlds worst record for species extinction. We have harried and opposed the Australian killing industry for more than a decade with considerable success. This latest move away from kangaroo leather is because Viva! has tarnished Adidas image and therefore their profitability. You cant be a little bit pregnant and you cant be a little bit immoral so we urge Adidas to drop kangaroo completely.
Philip Woolley, EU Campaign Director of the AWPC and head of international operations says: Having worked tirelessly for over ten years to get sports companies like Adidas to stop using kangaroo skin, the news of Adidas dropping their use on ethical and animal welfare grounds, is just a fantastic result. We congratulate both Adidas and the Co-Op for their positive approach to stop this trade and help save the lives of almost one million baby kangaroos each year. Sad byproducts from the manufacture of sports footwear, made from kangaroo skin.
Whilst Viva! and AWPC welcome Adidas move away from kangaroo leather, their long-running boycott will continue until the company commits to banning kangaroo products across its whole range. This boycott is extended to other companies that continue to use kangaroo leather and meat. Viva! is currently running a consumer campaign to persuade Lidl to drop kangaroo meat in its UK stores (7). Viva! and AWPC are also calling on consumers to boycott all kangaroo products and all football boot manufacturers to switch to using cruelty-free synthetics.
Notes to editors:
Images of kangaroos and kangaroo shooting available on request.
(1) Co-ops Responsible Investment Annual Review 2011/2012 also says: In 1839 Charles Darwin expressed concern at the rapid decline of kangaroo numbers saying, It may be long before these animals are altogether exterminated, but their doom is fixed. Each and every year, millions of kangaroos are killed in what is widely regarded as the largest land-based wildlife culling on the planet. Consequently, the figures coming out of Australia show populations are collapsing. For instance, kangaroos have been nominated as a threatened species in New South Wales after Australian government data revealed numbers have fallen by up to 90% in harvest zones in the last ten years alone (17).
The methods for dispatching these pests can also be haphazard, and consequently brutal. In 2006, David Beckham, at the time the face of Adidas products, switched to synthetics after years of wearing kangaroo football boots in response to increased awareness of the cruelty being used to obtain kangaroo leather.
We also wrote to Nike in connection with it and its subsidiary brand Umbros continued use of kangaroo leather. Like Adidas, Nike had publically committed to phase out the use of kangaroo leather but we sought a timeframe and target cessation date as well as requesting an update on progress to date.
(2) AgForce macropod committee spokesman Stephen Tully (quoting a kangaroo shooter) said: "Traditionally shooters had a fall-back market of shooting for skins but Mr Newton said that market was no longer viable after major manufacturers such as Adidas moved away from using kangaroo leather in response to public pressure from animal rights activists." http://www.beefcentral.com/news/article/649
(3) David Beckham kicked off his kangaroo leather boots in 2006 after Viva! sent him graphic footage showing the slaughter of the wild animals:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-479127/Stella-McCartney-militant-vegan-joins-forces-Adidas-company-profits-bloody-slaughter-kangaroos.html
(5) Number of dependent young as estimated by Thinkk (University of Technology Sydney): http://thinkkangaroos.uts.edu.au/. The official Code of Practice says (of pouch young) Single forceful blow to the base of the skull sufficient to destroy the functional capacity of the brain. OR Stunning, immediately followed by decapitation by rapidly severing the head from the body with a sharp blade. Full code available here: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/wildlife-trade/publications/kangaroo/pubs/code-of-conduct-commercial.pdf.
(6) Over 5.4 million kangaroos were earmarked to die in Australia in 2012 (a massive increase of over 1.5 million compared to 2011). Since 2001 (compared to 2011) there has been an overall drop of 23,126,349 kangaroos in areas where they are shot. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/wildlife-trade/wild-harvest/pubs/kangaroo-statistics.pdf
- Meat is banned from import into Russia (August 2009 to present day) on health reasons due to contaminated shipments.