WWF Soy Scorecard shows that too many European companies are hiding their soy use
The 2016 edition of WWF’s Soy Scorecard, released in advance of the 11th annual conference of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) taking place in Brazil this week, identified 16 companies as the European leaders in soy sustainability initiatives. Criteria measured included transparency on total soy use, use of responsibly produced soy and efforts to remove deforestation and conversion of other natural habitats from soy supply chains.
“WWF is pleased to see some real frontrunners especially in the retail and dairy sectors, buying most of their soy from RTRS or ProTerra certified producers, “ said WWF’s Sandra Mulder, Senior Advisor Market Change, “but it is clear that many companies take advantage of the lack of consumer awareness about soy in order to do nothing on this issue. 69 companies decided not to respond to our call for transparency -- this is more than half of the 133 companies approached by WWF.
“Many Europeans still don’t know that they eat on average 61 kilos of soy per year[i], mostly embedded in their meat and dairy products, and what impact irresponsible soy production can have on the ecosystems of South America. In most cases, consumers have no proof that the products they eat do not include deforestation”.
"The EU must not dodge the massive responsibility of its soy consumption, both direct and indirect, which drives deforestation in South America. We urgently need clear rules, both to support progressive companies and to push the laggards to improve their performance. WWF therefore calls on the European Commission to develop an EU Action Plan on deforestation and forest degradation to reduce the EU’s disastrous footprint on unique forests like the Cerrado or the Amazon," said Anke Schulmeister, Senior Forest Policy Officer at the WWF European Policy Office.
The Soy Scorecard assesses 133 leading European retailers, food service companies, consumer goods manufacturers, dairy companies, meat, egg and feed companies on actions related to sourcing responsible soy and eliminating deforestation from the animal products they sell. The companies are based in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
Increasing meat consumption is the main driver of soy expansion, with around 93 per cent[ii] of the soy going into Europe used for animal feed. Over recent decades, soy has undergone some of the greatest expansion of any global crop. In total, the area of land in South America devoted to soy grew from 17 million hectares in 1990 to 46 million hectares in 2010, mainly on land converted from natural ecosystems[iii].
In the meantime, relevant efforts were made by joint initiatives of soy producers and traders to reduce this impact, most notably the Soy Moratorium, which reduced the deforestation caused by soy in the Amazon to almost zero during the last decade, while Amazonian soy production doubled in the same period, on already deforested areas.
1 Note: WWF evaluated companies in 9 countries in Europe on their use of responsible soy. There are other countries in Europe making progress on responsible soy, for example Germany and Austria. Germany is currently involved in a multi-stakeholder process to explore the sourcing of responsible protein feed.
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WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with more than 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.