UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya



In January, Efeca gave a presentation to SRA members on how soya is used in foodservice supply chains and how the industry can support the protection of forests and natural vegetation through transition to sustainable soya supply chains.

For many companies’ deforestation and sustainability more widely has become a critical business issue, particularly those using soya within their supply chains (mainly food and drink businesses). There is increasing scrutiny from NGOs, most recently in Greenpeace’s reportWinging it’ but also from consumer groups, investors and government to support the work of producers to collectively source soya sustainably.


Soya and Deforestation

The expansion of soya production in South America, alongside beef, timber and other forest risk commodities has been strongly associated with deforestation and natural habitat destruction. This directly impacts biodiversity, carbon emissions, water systems and local communities. It is estimated that both deforestation and forest degradation represent between 10 to 20% of global ‘man-made’ C02 emissions.

The bulk of soya is primarily used within animal feed. This is particularly important for poultry and pork sectors, but also for the dairy and beef industry. In 2018, the UK imported a total of 3.2 million tonnes of soybeans, meal, and oil, of which 68% comes from South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, therefore it is essential to ensure responsible sourcing is taking place here.

Considerable efforts have already  been made to halt deforestation, through global-leading environmental legislation, such as the Forest Code in Brazil, to the industry-led Amazon Soy Moratorium, which since 2006, has dramatically reduced forest loss in the Amazon Biome.

By transitioning to sustainable soya and removing deforestation from supply chains, UK businesses will secure long term benefits for farmers and local communities and protect the ecosystems upon which future crop production and livelihoods depend.

The UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya

The UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya, convened by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and facilitated by Efeca, was set up in 2018 to allow UK Industry across the supply chain (from traders, to food companies and industry associations), a pre-competitive space to discuss and work together towards secure, resilient, supplies of deforestation-free sustainable soya imported to the UK.

The UK Roundtable now has over 30 members, including the major supermarkets, protein producers, farming organisations, feed industry, foodservice businesses and soya traders. Through becoming signatories of the UK Soya Roundtable, members have committed to ensuring that soya used in their supply chains is legal and cultivated in a way that protects against the conversion of forests and valuable native vegetation in order to produce soya, and to have made meaningful and demonstrable progress by 2020. To support them, members receive free technical expertise and opportunities to engage with key actors across the soya industry.

Over the past year retailers have created and updated existing sustainable soya commitments representing 83% of the UK’s retail market share and consequently protecting an area 2.5 times the size of London through sustainable sourcing. Efeca as facilitators of the Roundtable are now reaching out to the food service sector and meat and dairy brands to join the Roundtable.


What can you do?

  • Explore how much soya you currently use in your supply chain. Soya is typically used in animal feed and proxy calculators are available to give an estimated volume of soya per KG of meat or dairy product. You can also talk to your suppliers about sustainable soya, they may already have knowledge of where their soya is coming from and any sustainable certification attached to it.
    • This could allow you to purchase sustainable soya credits. This ‘book and claim’ method of certification allows you to support a producer of sustainable soya but does not physically change the soya in your supply chain. There are many schemes available and the UK Roundtable can help you make a decision of which scheme is best for you.


  • Consider creating a sustainable soya policy. This can set out the potential risks, why your business is taking action and a step by step plan of what actions you will take and by when. Your first step may be to conduct a review of soya in your supply chain.


  • Join the Roundtable on Sustainable Soya. The Roundtable is free to join and provides members a pre-competitive space to discuss challenges and opportunities. Members also receive assistance in developing policies, invitations to workshops and briefings on the latest developments in sustainable soya.


Click here for the current list of RT members which is regularly updated. To learn more about the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya, please contact [email protected].


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