EUROPEAN COMPANIES that use soy for animal feed or animal products are not doing nearly enough to encourage responsible growers to reduce the negative impacts of soy production, according to a new analysis from WWF.
Released today at the annual meeting of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, the WWF Soy Report Card 2014, also found national initiatives on responsible soy spurring better performance from companies, though some improvements still need to be made.
Duncan Williamson, WWF UK’s Food Policy Manager, said: “Europe uses 34 million tonnes of soy a year so companies must take responsibility for reducing deforestation, environmental degradation and social conflict in Latin America, where soya is mainly coming from.
“It’s hugely disappointing, given the scale of threats posed to tropical forests and savannahs from soy plantations, that companies like Bernard Mathews, Iceland, Findus and Nandos as well as animal feed and soy producers more widely are showing little sign of doing this.
“It is perfectly possible, as UK companies like Marks & Spencer and Waitrose can clearly demonstrate. They are on track to source 100 percent of soy from certified responsible sources by 2015.”
The report surveyed 88 major retailers, producers and feed suppliers from Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, finding that the best performers were concentrated among retailers, consumer goods manufacturers and the dairy industry. Little interest was being shown by most companies in the feed, meat and egg sectors and the limited progress evident here was being driven by national programmes.
European companies on track to meet goals of sourcing 100 percent of soy from certified responsible sources by 2015 are included dairy companies Arla (Denmark and Sweden) and FrieslandCampina (Netherlands) and retailers Ahold (Netherlands), Marks & Spencer and Waitrose (UK) and feed company Lantmännen (Sweden). Companies that have started the journey to responsibly sourced soy include Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
Half the meat and egg companies and almost half of the feed manufacturers failed to respond to the survey, compared with around a fifth of the consumer goods and dairy companies and less than a third of the retail and food service companies, showing awareness of their impacts if far too low. UK Household names that either did not respond or who have yet to take meaningful action to clean up their soy supply chains included Bernard Mathews, Iceland, Findus and Nando’s.
Sandra Mulder, leader of WWF’s global soy programme, said: “With around three quarters of soy globally going into animal and fish feed, this report shows that European companies and countries should be doing much more, starting with taking up more of the certified soy that is being produced by RTRS and ProTerra, currently the only two credible schemes for responsible soy.”
The report noted that half the companies taking action were involved with national plans, with the 27 companies involved in the Swedish Soy Dialogue having pledged to 100 percent responsible soy procurement in 2015, and a Netherlands responsible soy supply chain initiative accounts for nearly a quarter of national soy purchases in 2013. WWF is asking that the involved companies all commit to cover not only the soy for domestic use, but also the soy used in their international operations and that which is embedded in animal products for export.
Duncan Williamson said: “Only 50% of the RTRS certified produced has been sold, so it’s no longer good enough to say there is no RTRS soy available. Taking into account current prices for soy, the additional costs for RTRS credits are negligible, less than half a percent. There is no excuse for companies not to calculate their soy use and begin to cover it by RTRS credits now. We would like to see companies stepping up and supporting the farmers who have taken this important step and buying RTRS soy.”
WWF research on other commodity supply chains is showing that responsible sourcing can reduce business risk and increase efficiency.