By Rose McCulloch, Senior Consultant, Efeca
In November, 28 major businesses from across the UK supply chain came together to sign the UK Soy Manifesto, a commitment to cut deforestation and conversion linked soy from UK supply chains by 2025.
Signatories include major UK restaurant brands like Nando’s and KFC, all the major supermarkets, and meat producers, and together they represent nearly 2 million tonnes of soy purchases each year, and more than half (nearly 60%) of the UK’s total consumption.
Just under 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, according to the IPCC 2019 special report on climate change. The UK’s consumption of soy – 3.5 million tonnes in 2020 – though small in global terms, is contributing to pressure on biodiverse landscapes such as the Cerrado, the Atlantic Forest, the Gran Chaco and Chiquitania in South America. UK consumption of soy in 2017 led to an estimated 3,081 hectares of deforestation, an area twice the size of the City of London. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Commodities like soy can be grown without further destroying native vegetation.
UK Industry has been taking action to protect forests and ecosystems for a number of years before this Manifesto. Through the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya, companies have improved transparency and information sharing on soy across the supply chain and driven a significant increase in the use of certification to support the sustainable production of soy (from 15% of imports in 2018 to 32% in 2020). However, there is a shared recognition that mainstream transformation will need mass market solutions and businesses all across supply chains must act together.
To support this transformation, signatories of the Manifesto commit to setting robust deforestation and conversion free commitments and asking direct suppliers to adopt the same.
Paula MacKenzie, Managing Director, KFC UK&I, said: “We’ve got to address deforestation. It’s our responsibility to manage our supply chain, but with the complexity of distribution and scale, it will take more than our influence alone to transition to sustainable soya. The collective action of the entire food industry is needed.”
Crucially, the Manifesto commitments will be included in contractual obligations, and suppliers will be supported to ensure the target is met. Signatories will report annually on progress and will help improve reporting on a national level to verify that soy entering the UK is not responsible for deforestation and conversion.
The UK Soy Manifesto is just one piece of the puzzle. This Manifesto aligns with and builds upon similar initiatives, such as the French Soy Manifesto, to show increasing demand and action plans from industry across Europe. There is also a call for global markets to provide financial incentives and technical support to boost sustainable production in producer countries. UK industry welcomes the commitments announced at COP 26 to promote sustainable development and trade while protecting forests and other critical ecosystems, 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.
We would encourage any company who would like to be involved in the Manifesto to contact us for more information, as only by working together can we protect forests, people and our planet.
Efeca is the secretariat of the UK Soy Manifesto and UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya.