Foodservice firms sign up to UK sustainable soya scheme

Compass, Nando’s and Whitbread have all joined the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya.

The initiative, not to be confused with international Roundtable on Responsible Soya, was first convened in March 2018 to help stimulate sourcing of sustainable soya.

However, as Footprint reported in 2019, the signatories including most major supermarkets, as well as meat and dairy companies and representatives, but no foodservice brands. Now three companies from the sector are listed as signatories.

This is positive news, not least because the sector has been “lagging behind” when it comes to responsible sourcing of soya – a commodity that is in the spotlight due to its links with deforestation and habitat destruction.

The roundtable’s latest report shows that an estimated 27% of the soya consumed in the UK is now covered by a conversion- or deforestation-free standard. That is up from the 15% baseline in October 2018.

“Since the launch of the roundtable, there has been significant progress made by UK industry, with eight of the major retailers either creating or strengthening their sustainable soya sourcing policies, representing 83% of the retail market share,” notes the annual progress report.

A third of the soya used by the UK will be sustainable once the commitments made by signatories are fully implemented. However, companies are still not moving fast enough according to NGOs. Morrisons and Iceland were criticised in a report by WWF-UK last year, with Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Lidl also struggling.

Every year, the UK imports approximately 3.2m tonnes of soya in the form of soya beans, meal and oil. Of this figure, most is sourced from South America either directly (68%) or through the Netherlands, and from the USA. At least 0.6m tonnes of additional soya are imported indirectly ‘embedded’ in products.

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