Retail Soy Group lays out roadmap for deforestation-free soy value chains

The roadmap presents the principles and practices that are urgently needed to play their part in halting deforestation and conversion.

Retail Soy Group lays out roadmap for deforestation-free soy value chains
October 28, 2021

Major campaigning, civil society and technical organizations along with leading responsible businesses represented by the Retail Soy Group, including Aldi South and Tesco, have collaborated to develop a roadmap for halting deforestation and conversion of other natural ecosystems related to soy production. This roadmap presents the principles and practices that are urgently needed within the retail sector to play their part in halting deforestation and conversion thereby addressing the global climate crisis and preserving the Earth’s vital ecosystems, such as the Amazon, the Great Plains and the Cerrado.

More than 75% of global soy production is used as animal feed in the livestock sector. The complexities of these supply chains make it challenging for ultimate sellers of these products to ensure that the soy used in animal feed is free of deforestation and conversion. This complexity is further exacerbated by the minimal level of influence that any one individual downstream company has on the overall system at large when even the world’s biggest hospitality and retail businesses use less than 1% of global soy production each.

For the last decade, many individual companies have looked to address this challenge by moving their supply chains to deforestation-free certification systems. But concrete results were very limited in scale: only about 3% of global soy production is currently certified. The need for a new, more comprehensive and collective approach has therefore become clear.

At the start of 2021, a working group was established by the Retail Soy Group in collaboration with the world’s leading civil society, campaigning, and technical organizations to find credible steps that downstream soy users could rapidly implement to drive impact across and beyond supply chains. The result is a highly accessible document that shows how companies, regardless of where they are on their journey to tackle deforestation and conversion, can quickly identify practical steps to move forward based on five critical principles:

  • Credible commitments throughout the value chain.
  • Supply chain transparency as a requirement for market access.
  • Engaging, and not excluding, challenging regions as a matter of policy.
  • Collaborating with civil society groups and local communities in producing regions.
  • Scaling up ranges that offer more sustainable diets for customers.

Will Schreiber, representative of the Retail Soy Group, said, “as a result of this collaboration, it is now clear that companies need to rapidly shift from developing niche supply chains to ensuring that the companies within their supply chains are effective agents of change. It’s not about ensuring that Product A or Product B is deforestation- and conversion-free, but rather that every company and every link in the supply chain is fully committed to only sourcing responsibly.”

Jean-François Timmers, Advocacy manager on deforestation- and conversion-free supply chains for WWF, said, “we need swift and far-reaching action. Previous measures such as improving individual supply chains and resorting to segregated ‘clean’ niche supplies have not proven effective to curb ecosystem destruction. We welcome the principles outlined in this document and urge companies to embrace them, follow their guidance, and demonstrate much greater leadership in halting deforestation and conversion.” 

The working group that developed and agreed on the pathway forward includes representatives from the following leading civil society organizations and private sector groups: Accountability Framework initiative, Aldi South, Co-op UK, Global Canopy, IDH, Mighty Earth, Proforest, Retail Soy Group, Tesco, WWF-International, WWF-Brazil and WWF-UK.

Check out the roadmap here.