UK Roundtable supports eight UK retailers to make commitments to sustainable soya

With the support of the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya, eight of the largest UK supermarkets –Tesco, Asda, Lidl UK, Co-Op, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, Aldi UK and Sainsbury’s have taken a major step forward in greening their supply chains, by publishing their action plans to deliver sustainable soya to the UK market.

These retailers represent a combined retail market share of 83% and over 1.2 million imported tonnes of soya, equivalent to 400,000 hectares, roughly 2.5 times the size of London.

Other leading UK food companies and members of the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya have also made commitments to act, supporting a major step forward for the UK.

Tropical deforestation contributes up to a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.  Soya is a key driver of deforestation in South America, alongside cattle ranching, and is an important ingredient in most animal feed in the UK and Europe. Soya consumed in the UK is mainly imported from Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

The industry-led Roundtable was convened in March 2018 by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Minister Claire Perry. Government convened the Roundtable following a request from UK companies for support to meet ambitious commitments made through the Consumer Goods Forum and the New York Declaration on Forests, through which over 473 companies have committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains.

The actions taken by leading food companies in the UK market over the last year to achieve this milestone sends a clear demand signal to international soya producers and traders for sustainably produced soya. Dr Emma Keller, Head of Food Commodities at WWF-UK says:

“This is a significant step towards tackling the deforestation and habitat conversion associated with soy production. WWF’s Risky Business Report shows the UK consumes 3.3 million tonnes of soya every year so it’s incredibly positive to see the UK’s leading supermarkets – who equate for 83% of the market share – taking responsibility for their overseas footprint. We look forward to seeing how each retailer implements these promises and hope it will inspire others, especially those in the food service sector, to follow suite.”

Roundtable members recognise that whilst this is an important step forward, more work remains, and look forward to continuing the engagement with actors across the supply chain including farmers in producing countries. Many members of the Roundtable are already actively engaging with producers through the Statement of Support for the Cerrado Manifesto, but next steps for the Roundtable include building on world leading environmental legislation such as the Forest Code in Brazil, and the industry-led Amazon Soy Moratorium, to work together to build secure, resilient supply chains for sustainably produced soya into the UK.


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