Soy production has been (indirectly) associated with large-scale deforestation in producing regions, alongside other serious social and environmental issues, like forced labor and pesticide use. The soy moratorium in the Brazilian Amazon and several standards for responsible soy production (such as the Roundtable on Responsible Soy, Proterra, Sojaplus and ISCC) were the initial reaction. A more recent initiative is the Cerrado Manifesto, a call for action from Brazilian civil society which currently has the support of 61 retailers and brands. While the moratorium has effectively reduced the link between soy and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, the uptake and sourcing of sustainability schemes has never reached mainstream levels. Currently RTRS accounts for 0,6% of all global soy production.

Impact Focus

Market transformation

IDH aims for 50% of EU imported soy to be legally compliant, according to FEFAC guidelines and/or equivalent. This requires a mainstream solution. European and Brazilian parties, representing about 90% of the EU soy imports and a substantial share of Brazilian soy production, have signed an MoU on sustainable production and trade. This allows us to support mainstream solutions and market uptake. By working closely with CGF and TFA2020, we make sure that brands and retailers support this transition and provide market incentives, for instance. To deliver these incentives in areas near forest and with farmers, we developed Verified Sourcing Areas (VSAs). The first VSA for soy is under development together with Aprosoja.

KPI progress 2017

  • Changing Business Practices

    Sustainable uptake by program partners goal 2020 80
    Target 2017 51
    Result (available end 2018 only) 0
    IDH convened front-running European retailers to conduct a footprint analysis of their soy sourcing and identify next steps. Both Tesco and Marks & Spencer used the footprint analysis to adapt their sourcing policies. In addition, it has served as an inspiration for the soy sector in the UK, which has set up a roundtable. EU soy buyers are known for their sustainable engagement, but also for failing to actually source it. To further drive responsible sourcing, we convened a think-tank with brands and retailers. The sourcing guidelines they developed include a continuous improvement approach and sourcing from mainstream farmers for which becoming legally compliant is the largest and most important first step. To drive legality and then continuous improvement towards RTRS levels, a more direct link to production is needed than the book-and claim system. The new VSA approach is an important step in that direction. IDH provided co-funding to support the benchmarking of several soy standards against the FEFAC sourcing guidelines. 17 soy schemes (producers and traders schemes and certification standards) were benchmarked, and four others are in the pipeline. All schemes, except Aapresid’s Agricultura Certificada and RTRS, had to make significant changes. With Louis Dreyfus also becoming benchmarked, all major traders are covered.
  • Changing Business Practices

    # of sustainability standards applied 2020 17
    Target 2017 15
    Result 2017 17
    IDH was able to convene a unique coalition of FEFAC (the EU feed industry), FEDIOL (the EU crushers), Aprosoja and ABIOVE to sign an MoU to align efforts on transforming the Brazilian-EU soy market. It is the first time that a direct, formal working relation has been established between Brazilian soy producers and key European soy purchasers. As a result, a supply chain model facilitating a more direct link between buyers and producers is under discussion, and discussions will continue based on the progress of the Sorriso VSA pilot with Aprosoja. With IDH support, FEFAC was able to work with all its member countries on scaling up sourcing of responsible soy. With soy now being a priority commodity of the Amsterdam Declaration Group, several national associations, but most notably that of France, have been empowered to push this agenda. France’s association, Duralim, made a zero-deforestation commitment – which is unique for a feed association.
  • Field Level Impact

    # of workers/farmers reached 950
    Target 2017 800
    Result 2017 1,350
    IDH co-funded seven projects that piloted sustainable landscape approaches in the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Bahia and in the eastern region of Paraguay. Several landscape plans were developed, mapping a total of 43,000 hectares of assets and 277,000 hectares of legal reserve liabilities in Lucas do Rio Verde and Querência municipalities, and elaborating on regularization scenarios for those liabilities. We developed a study for geospatial planning aimed at the connectivity of the landscape in Carlinda, Paranaíta, and Alta Floresta municipalities. We elaborated the strategic plan for forest restoration in the Alto Teles Pires and Alto Juruena regions, and a plan for organization of productive chains in Querência settlements. We shared the lessons of these first field-level landscape pilots in a report.

Relevant SDGs

  • 12 Responsible Consumption
  • 15 Life on Land

Lessons Learned

Lack of demand
2020, with its deforestation commitments and claims, is coming closer and closer. Yet the producers in South America see a lack of demand for their responsibly produced soy. Although Europe is at the forefront of (verbally) demanding it, actual sourcing of responsible soy is lagging. Change is needed soon, before the industry gets tired of empty demands.

Europe is not the biggest buyer of soy: China imports three times as much. To mainstream responsible production, China must be involved.

Trust is key: the Brazilian stakeholders’ (Aprosoja and Abiove) trust in IDH allows us to move forward, but it is also something we need to carefully maintain.

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Sectors: Soy

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