The soybean can be thought of as the ‘king of beans’. It contains 38% protein, which is around three times the amount of protein found in eggs, and twelve times the amount of protein found in milk.
In the EU, around 90% of soy is used to feed livestock, so it is a vital raw material in the production of our meat, poultry, dairy and eggs. It is also estimated that on average, each European consumer eats 87kg of meat and 250 eggs per year. To produce these volumes 400 m2 of land is required for soy production as feed.
Through rapid population growth, and the emerging middle class, the demand and ultimately, consumption of animal protein is on the rise. This has placed significant strain on some of the world’s precious resources as millions of hectares of forest, grassland and savannah have been converted to enable soy production.
According to work commissioned by WWF, the UK sources soy from countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay where pressures on these landscapes is high, driven in part by the expansion of soy production.
Environmental impacts of soy in these regions include soil erosion and degraded pastureland, biodiversity loss and carbon emissions.
The production of soy has also been connected to several social impacts, including land grabbing, the displacement of local populations for industrial scale production and health risks from water contamination.