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UK food industry unites to ensure all soy is deforestation and conversion free in landmark agreement

  • Nearly 40 leading UK food companies and soy supply companies announce landmark set of actions to work together towards ensuring all soy used in animal feed in the UK being deforestation free.
  • Move comes on the first anniversary of the UK Soy Manifesto1 and will help protect some of the world’s most valuable forests and natural habitats.
  • UK Soy Manifesto signatories include 38 brands, retailers, food service companies and livestock producers operating in the UK such as Tesco, Waitrose, Nando’s, KFC UK and Ireland, Lidl and McDonald’s UK and Ireland2.

38 leading UK food producers, representing nearly 60% of the UK’s soy consumption, and the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), representing the four major importers of soy and the animal feed industry, have today set out a series of comprehensive actions to deliver on the aims of the UK Soy Manifesto. An ambitious commitment which aims to move all the UK’s soy imports to being free from deforestation and conversion.

Acknowledging that mainstream transformation on this scale cannot be achieved by companies working within their individual supply chains alone, all businesses along the supply chain, from soy producers to retailers and brands, will take responsibility and act together. Today’s announcement demonstrates the group’s commitment to collective, cross supply chain action with agreement to:

  • Produce a quarterly soy deforestation risk register for UK soy imports, tracking the UK’s progress in the importation of deforestation and conversion free soy.
  • Agreeing a joint transition plan, coordinated by a high-level cross supply chain governance group, with support of expert stakeholders to monitor and review the transition, ensuring the risk and responsibilities are shared.

A key element of the transition plan will be to ensure UK companies producing and selling meat and dairy products (using soy in animal feed) have a practical mechanism to specify that they require deforestation and conversion free soy, with robust checks and controls to assure standards are met. That’s why today’s announcement critically includes:

  • a commitment from AIC to develop a new verified deforestation and conversion free (vDCF) standard for the UK which will be independently verified

Together, these actions will ensure that Signatory companies can turn their ambitions into practical actions, supporting a mass market move to deforestation and conversion free soy use in the UK that would have been difficult to achieve even a year ago. 

This package of measures provides the building blocks for this transition, recognising the need to accelerate the pace of action to protect forests, balanced with the need to support the livelihoods of farmers in the UK and abroad and maintain strong resilient supplies of this critical raw material in challenging market conditions.

James McCulloch, Head of feed sector AIC said:

"The AIC Soy Supply Group commitment to providing quarterly data for a UK risk register is significant as the group is the sole source of data on what is shipped and sold to the UK as vDCF. The data helps all parties understand the progress that has been made and focusses attention and resource on areas where there is still work to be done. Whilst market challenges are real, our industry remains committed to delivering DCF soy and sustainable supply chains."

"Around the world nature is in freefall, and unsustainable agriculture is driving its catastrophic decline. To protect precious natural habitats like the Cerrado in Brazil, we must urgently ensure soy imported to the UK is not driving the destruction of nature overseas."

Given that almost a quarter (23%) of global human-caused greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, forestry, and other land uses, and most of these emissions are due to deforestation this announcement is well timed as countries come together to meet in Sharm-El-Sheikh for COP27.

Many countries and companies made bold commitments last year at COP26, hosted by the UK in Glasgow. Together governments of producer and consumer countries committed to promote sustainable development and trade while protecting forests and other critical natural habitats, through the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use and the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade Dialogue (FACT) Joint Statement and Roadmap For Action. The development of the UK Soy Manifesto, alongside today’s announcement are key, practical steps that will helps to deliver on these ambitions, consistent with a 1.5-degree pathway.

As well as the commitments announced today, Signatory members are also calling for global markets to provide financial incentives and technical support to boost sustainable production. UK supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, for example, have invested US$ 11 million in the Responsible Commodities Facility (RCF), a new system of financial incentives for farmers in Brazil who commit to deforestation- and conversion-free (DCF) soy cultivation. Governments in producer and consumer countries and regions also have an important role to play. Ensuring environmental legislation that protects ecosystems are enforced at source, and that downstream companies are obligated to undertake due diligence on their use of forest risk commodities will be key.

David Edwards, Director of Food Strategy at WWF said:

"Today’s announcement – the product of collective action across the supply chain, including retailers, traders and suppliers – has the potential to drive the long overdue actions the soy sector so urgently requires. But, to ensure it delivers for nature and climate, we urgently need to see an explicit roadmap for implementation to meet the 2025 ambition - including measurable milestones to track progress, and a clear focus on bringing the rest of the sector on board."

Ashwin Prasad, Chief Product Officer at Tesco said:

"We’re absolutely committed to ensuring we meet our target of sourcing soy from whole areas verified as deforestation-free by 2025, and the launch of the UK Soy Manifesto last year marked a significant milestone on that journey. We’ve made good progress this year with the introduction of the Responsible Commodities Facility, which provides direct support to soy farmers in Brazil, but we can’t solve the issue alone."

"It’s vital we bring together retailers, brands, food service companies, livestock producers and soy traders themselves to set out a clear pathway to achieving our goal of guaranteeing all soy imported into the UK is deforestation free by 2025."

The UK Soy Manifesto aligns with and builds upon similar initiatives in other markets such as the French Soy Manifesto, to show increasing demand and action plans from industry on removing all deforestation and ecosystem destruction from soy supply chains.

Following this announcement, the national soy profile is expected to become publicly available in April 2023. Details of the joint transition plan will be made available on the UK Soy Manifesto website.

ENDS

1Please see the full list of signatories in the ‘Notes to editors’ at the end of this document.
2The UK Soy Manifesto is facilitated by Efeca, the convenor of the UK Roundtable on Sourcing Sustainable Soya and collectively led by all its industry signatories. Other civil society organisations (including WWF and Global Canopy), consultancies and research/academia partners provide support to the Manifesto.

Notes to editors:

To learn more about the UK Soy Manifesto, visit www.uksoymanifesto.uk

The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) is the agrisupply industry’s leading trade association. AIC has over 230 Members in the agrisupply trade and aims to promote the benefits of modern commercial agriculture in the UK and support collaboration throughout the food chain. AIC members represent 90% of the animal feed sector and grain and oilseed sectors. AIC has established the Soy Supply Group to take this work forward, comprising of representatives from the four main soy imports to the UK: ADM, Cargill, Cefetra and Viterra.

To date the full list of signatories to the UK Manifesto includes:

  1. 2 Sisters Food Group
  2. ABP UK
  3. Aldi GB
  4. Avara Foods
  5. Bakkavor
  6. Compleat Food Group
  7. Co-op
  8. Cranswick Plc
  9. Danish Crown
  10. Danone UK and Ireland
  11. Dew Valley
  12. Dunbia
  13. Foyle Food Group
  14. Greencore Group Plc
  15. Greggs
  16. Gressingham Foods
  17. Hilton Food Group Plc
  18. Iceland Foods Ltd
  19. Kepak Group
  20. KFC UK & Ireland
  21. Labeyrie Fine Foods (Lyons Seafood and Farne of Scotland)
  22. Lidl GB
  23. Marks and Spencer
  24. McDonald's UK & Ireland
  25. Wm Morrison Supermarkets Ltd
  26. Moy Park
  27. Müller UK and Ireland
  28. Nando’s UK & Ireland
  29. Princes
  30. Ocado
  31. Oscar Mayer
  32. Pilgrim’s UK
  33. Sainsburys
  34. Samworth Brothers
  35. Seafresh Group
  36. Tesco Plc
  37. Waitrose & Partners
  38. Yorkshire Farmhouse Eggs

The Manifesto is supported by other leading sector and trade associations representing the broader livestock industry including:

  1. British and Irish Associations of Zoos & Aquariums (BIAZA)
  2. British Meat Processors Association (BMPA)
  3. British Egg Industry Council (BEIC)
  4. British Retail Consortium (BRC)
  5. Chilled Food Association (CFA)
  6. Dairy UK
  7. National Pig Association
  8. National Farmers Union
  9. Red Tractor
  10. Sustainable Restaurant Association

To learn more about existing UK industry action on sustainable soy visit:
UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya
Retail Soy Group
Consumer Goods Forum Forest Positive Coalition

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