European and global soy traders fall short of environmental and social commitments

Posted on May, 18 2021

European and other global soy traders are not doing enough to prevent the devastating impacts of soy production on forests and other crucial ecosystems, nor do they adequately tackle human rights abuses in soy supply chains, according to a Soy Traders Scorecard launched today by WWF in collaboration with Global Canopy.
This first-of-its-kind Scorecard measures the commitments and actions taken by 22 of the world’s biggest soy traders, including four from Europe, to address critical environmental and social issues occurring in their supply chains.

Of the nine traders who responded to the survey (representing 52% of global soy exports), the highest total score obtained by a company was only 51.5%. 

"Soy imports to the EU come at a great cost for big biodiversity hotspots, such as the Brazilian savannah of the Cerrado and the Chaco in Argentina and Paraguay. The fact that soy traders are falling short in meeting their environmental and social commitments only reinforces the need for ambitious EU legislation. We need binding rules that ensure agricultural commodity supply chains are not linked to deforestation or nature destruction”, said Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, Senior Forest Policy Officer at WWF's European Policy Office.

The companies were assessed on the strength and implementation of their deforestation and conversion-free commitments for their soy supply chains. They were selected based on their potential exposure to these risks, measured by estimated volumes of soy exported from key producing countries (Brazil, US, Argentina, and Paraguay, which together represented 84% of global soy production in 2020), and estimations of deforestation risk linked to soy from some of these areas by

Four of the 22 companies are headquartered in Europe (France, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Luxembourg), with the remaining in the US (six), Japan (four), Brazil (three) and Argentina (three), China and South Korea.
WWF’s recent report Stepping up? The continuing impact of EU consumption on nature worldwide showed that soy has the highest associated imported deforestation footprint for the EU, over other soft commodities. Between 2005 and 2017, over 80% of tropical deforestation embedded in EU imports was concentrated in soy (equal to 89,000 hectares per year), mostly produced in vital ecosystems in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Soy production has more than doubled over the last 20 years and is mostly being used for animal feed.

While calling on agribusinesses to scale up their commitments, WWF and Global Canopy also urge policy-makers to adopt and enforce binding legislation to guarantee agricultural commodity supply chains are free of deforestation, ecosystem conversion and human rights abuses. 

Discussions for new legislation to minimise EU-driven global deforestation are in full swing. If sufficiently far-reaching and ambitious, this new law could be a game changer for nature, the climate and local communities in producing countries, and would keep trading companies in line.

“The European Commission is expected to present a legislative proposal addressing global deforestation before the summer. We will push for a strong, ambitious law that ensures the EU takes its responsibility in protecting the world’s forests, grasslands and wetlands”, concluded Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove.


For further information contact:
Anke Schulmeister - Oldenhove
Senior Forest Policy Officer
+32 485 84 31 44

Alejandra Morales
Senior Communications Officer, Deforestation
+32 488 84 98 05

About Global Canopy
Global Canopy is a data-driven think tank that targets the market forces destroying nature. We do this by providing innovative open-access data, clear metrics, and actionable insights to leading companies, financial institutions, governments and campaigning organisations worldwide.
Between 2005 and 2017, over 80% of tropical deforestation embedded in EU imports was concentrated in soy
© Adriano Gambarini / WWF-Brazil