Creating European market demand for responsible soy

The IDH soy program works on increasing both sustainable demand and sustainable supply of soy. Concerning the demand side, by 2020 the program aims to raise the bar on sourcing guidelines to zero-net-deforestation and to have 50% of the soy imported in Europe be responsible. On the production side, IDH aims to create a physical connect between the sourced soy and the producer via an Area Mass Balance system.

On the European market, IDH continues to promote and support responsible sourcing of soy, so that markets increasingly reward sustainable and deforestation-free commodity production on the ground. IDH supports the feed industry and retail to bring their commitments to the next level, and is working on expanding the Dutch Dairy sector’s commitment of 100% responsible soy to the rest of Europe.

On the ground, IDH supports producers to become legally compliant, and then continuously improve to an RTRS certified level. It is important that a physical connection exists between what is sourced in Europe and what is produced in South America, as this not only supports the individual farmer, but especially his region to produce sustainably. To this end, IDH is piloting various projects on verified regional sourcing. On the supply side, the program is integrated with the landscape program in Mato Grosso.



In 2011 an agreement was reached between stakeholders in The Netherlands which stated that by the end of 2015, all processed soy would be responsible. This target was not fully achieved; in 2015 44% of the 1.8 MMT of soy processed by the Netherlands was responsible (RTRS), covering all the soy consumed in the country and a small part of the exports. The dairy sector is the only sector that sources 100% responsible soy.

In 2011, only a few producers were RTRS certified. So to create sufficient supply of responsible soy, IDH started the Soy Fast Track Fund I + II, a producer support program. This ended mid 2016, achieving 2.4 million hectares under sustainable management, of which 0.5 million hectares RTRS certified in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Over 1.000 producers received support, and IDH proved that producing in an environmentally and socially sustainable way is also economically viable, as certification is a great management tool, it mitigates risks and has proven to be very positive for real estate value. Please find a selection of learning documents here. In 2014, IDH initiated the Soy Fast Track Fund III projects, which are seven projects prototyping a landscape approach in Brazil and Paraguay.

To accelerate cost efficient sourcing of responsible soy, IDH supported the development of the Fefac Soy Sourcing Guidelines and benchmark. The Fefac Guidelines are a list of 57 criteria, with a baseline of legal compliance and a structure that promotes continuous improvement on the farm. Currently 13 schemes have been benchmarked.

During this period, three key insights emerged that would change the shape of the program. Firstly, a study with KPMG made clear that 95% of the RTRS compliance costs in Brazil are related to legal compliance. Secondly, on farm certification does not guarantee that deforestation in the region will stop. And lastly, a physical supply chain connect between market and production is needed to drive improvements – book & claim is not enough. This is why the soy program is now integrated with the landscape program in Mato Grosso

Relevant SDGs




Lucian Peppelenbos

Director of Learning and Innovation

phone+31 (0) 302305676

e-mailemail me

Nienke Sleurink

Program Officer, Fresh and Ingredients

phone+31 (0)6 2822 8279

e-mailemail me

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Related projects

From current practices to legal compliance... is the major step towards responsible soy

Partners in the Soy sector