In 2018, 369 million tonnes of soy were produced, mainly in Brazil, Argentina and the USA. As the second largest importer of soy globally, Europe imported 34 million tonnes of soy. Soy production has been (indirectly) associated with deforestation in producing regions, alongside other serious social and environmental issues.
Taking a stepwise approach, IDH focuses on three main targets: to raise the bar of sourcing guidelines to incorporate zero-net-deforestation; to have 50% of European soy import responsible by 2020 (100% by the CGF companies); to develop a direct sourcing connection between the end buyer and producing region.
The IDH soy market program aims to increase market uptake of sustainable soy in Europe and other large domestic markets, and link sustainable soy farming directly to market players to deliver on sustainability/deforestation pledges.
We work with parties throughout the downstream supply chain, including the European Feed sector (90% of soy imports) – feed associations, retailers & manufacturers and traders. As increased demand is key to reducing deforestation and promoting good agricultural practices in producing countries. The strategy is comprised of three tiers:
- Convening public-private partnerships at European and national levels, to enable shared governance of targets on sustainable sourcing, to strengthen policy frameworks and create an enabling environment which supports the mainstream uptake of sustainably produced soy. IDH convenes European countries, companies and civil society in the soy supply chain, in close collaboration with the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) and the Amsterdam Declaration Partnership (ADP). Together, we aim to transform the market and achieve 50% responsible soy in Europe by 2020.
- Publishing periodic market data reports on the uptake of sustainably produced soy to monitor the delivery on targets by governments, companies and sectors. The first responsible soy monitoring report in collaboration with IUCN NL, will be published soon (April 2019). The report states – In 2017, 22% of the soy used in Europe was FEFAC-SSG compliant, and 13% deforestation-free. This demonstrates that the demand for sustainably produced soy needs to increase dramatically – the ambitious commitments must be translated to real actions by all relevant sector players, and new, sustainable sourcing solutions need to be developed.
- Developing strong supply chain connections between the stakeholders on the soy market end and producing countries via the Verified Sourcing Areas (VSA), where sustainable palm oil is produced at increasing levels.
We support producers through the IDH landscape program in Mato Grosso, Brazil, where 27 percent of the Brazilian soy is produced. We work as a part of a coalition of public and private sector stakeholders led by the Government of Mato Grosso, the Produce, Conserve and Include (PCI). The PCI plan aims to increase production and decrease deforestation; restore forests and degraded pastures; and enhance social inclusion. To implement this state plan at a local level, IDH is developing PCI regional compacts in high-deforestation risk regions in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes. (A compact is an agreement between public and private parties around a predefined area to produce sustainably and conserve natural resources.) Regional compacts will result in multi-sector formalized, long-term sustainable land use and management plans. IDH will support implementation of the plans through co-funding projects, the development of business cases for investors and links to markets. The compact is expected to move towards becoming a Verified Sourcing Area.
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 part of the soy program is now integrated with the landscape program in Mato Grosso.
Uptake rate of sustainable production by program partners (percentage)Target 2018 50Result 2018 22Cumulative target 2020 80Cumulative result 2016-2018 22
Uptake rate of sustainable production (% FEFAC-SSG compliant soymeal)Target 2018 37Result 2018 22Cumulative target 2020 50Cumulative result 2016-2018 22
Private-sector (sustainability) investments in the program (in million euro)Target 2018 0Result 2018 0.077Cumulative target 2020 0Cumulative result 2016-2018 6.7
Sustainability commitments are increasingly topping the agendas of traders, processors, consumer-facing companies, producers and governments. However, currently there is no efficient and inexpensive option to guarantee supply of commodities that fulfill these commitments at the right volume and cost. Certification schemes and front-runner companies are leading in sustainability but struggle to reach critical mass at the same time. Without that critical mass, the world is failing to turn the tide on issues of global concern such as deforestation and poor labour conditions. Landscape approaches have emerged as a solution on the ground but are yet to be translated into a sustainable sourcing mechanism.
To address this gap, IDH and partners are developing the Verified Sourcing Area (VSA) model. The VSA model brings together the producing region, supply chain actors and committed end buyers, making use of public-private partnerships to ensure sustainability all along the supply chain and across the sourcing region.
In Mato Grosso, IDH is partnering with the municipality of Sorriso, and private sector partners (companies, producers, communities) to work towards a Produce, Conserve and Include (PCI) compact agreement. The program aims to promote responsible soy production, responsible biofuels (from corn, the key rotational crop with soy) and adding value to animal protein industries (beef, but also aquaculture, pork and poultry). Environmentally targets include creating potential financial mechanisms for legal reserve compensation, eliminating illegal deforestation and restoring 100% of the degraded permanent preservation areas. And provide technical assistance to include smallholders on the local economy.
The compact is expected to move towards becoming a VSA. As more VSA Readiness Pilots will be initiated in 2019, the VSA model is attracting a lot of attention from supply chain sustainability stakeholders globally and is expected to evolve rapidly.
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