Companies hiding soy use, WWF warns

31st May 2016

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Mark Eden

More than half of major food companies are not transparent about their use of soy products and efforts to prevent deforestation in their supply chains, according to WWF.

The campaign group has published its second soy scorecard in advance of the 11th annual conference of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) in Brazil this week.

Soy is one of the fastest expanding crops globally, with the main driver being increased meat consumption, WWF said. The area of land in South America devoted to soy production grew from 17 million hectares in 1990 to 46 million hectares in 2010, it estimates, with expansion mainly on land converted from natural ecosystems, resulting in damage to wildlife, ecosystems and indigenous communities.

The scorecard assesses 133 retailers, food service companies, consumer goods manufacturers, dairy companies, meat, egg and feed companies on transparency on soy use, use of soy certified by the RTRS or the ProTerra systems, and efforts to stop deforestation and conversion of other natural habitats from soy supply chains.

Sixty-nine out of 133 companies surveyed did not provide any information on their use of responsibly produced soy. WWF has assumed that the vast majority of these are not doing anything to move towards responsible soy use.

‘It is clear that many companies take advantage of the lack of consumer awareness about soy in order to do nothing on this issue,’ said Sandra Mulder, WWF’s senior advisor on market change.

WWF is urging the European Commission to develop an action plan on deforestation and forest degradation to reduce the EU’s footprint on forests.

Of the 64 companies who did respond to the survey, WWF found the following results:

  • Fifty-four firms calculated their soy footprint either partly or fully, while 46 companies claim to use responsible soy.
  • Thirty-four companies have made generic ‘deforestation-free’ commitments, of which 27 have committed to 100% responsible soy.
  • Sixteen companies are leading the way by making strong commitments to responsible, deforestation-free soy, and by sourcing most of their soy from certified sources.

The retail and dairy sectors are performing particularly well on the issue, it said.

Of 25 UK companies polled, none were judged by WWF to be leaders on the issue. Waitrose and Marks and Spencer were ranked as performing well. Twelve companies including supermarkets Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrison, manufacturer Young’s Seafood and feed company AB Agri (ABF) were deemed to be ‘starting the journey’.

Ten UK companies did not respond, including retailer Iceland, food service company Whitbread and meat processors 2Sisters Food Group.


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