At Lidl GB, we are taking action to ensure that soy production is sustainable and deforestation-free for the long term. As part of one of Europe’s leading organisations in the retail food industry, we recognise the need to accelerate progress towards a secure, resilient supply of sustainable soy.
The majority of soy that is brought into the EU is typically used as animal feed and so therefore contributes to the production of meat, poultry, dairy and eggs. The production of soy has been a key driver of deforestation, making it vital that we take action to support sustainable production.
Our soy strategy forms part of our commitment to sourcing raw materials from sustainable sources. We were the first UK retailer to certify our entire soy supply chain as sustainable.
From September 2018, Lidl will purchase RTRS certificates on an annual basis through a ‘Book and Claim Direct Trade’ approach to cover 100% of our soy footprint, creating a clear market signal for sustainable, zero-deforestation soy.
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.
The Lidl Soy Initiative
In 2017 we set up the Lidl Soy Initiative, in order to play our part to promote more sustainable soy production across Brazil.
Selected farms in two regions, Maranhao and Piaui, were chosen as part of this initiative, to improve both social and environmental issues.
Working in partnership with the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) Lidl directly supports farmers through the RTRS certification scheme 'Direct Trade Book & Claim'.
Our soy footprint
In order to develop our policy we have used the RTRS soy calculator to build a picture of our soy footprint in high impact supply chains. The RTRS soy calculator uses conversion factors to understand the average volumes of soy required as feed to produce the following primary proteins:
We understand that there are limitations to using such a blunt tool to calculate a complex figure, but feel that this methodology provides us with enough information to drive the desired impacts in our supply chains.
Using this methodology, in 2018/19, we calculated that approximately 130 thousand tonnes of soy were used indirectly as feed in the production of the fresh and frozen product groups listed above. Approximately half of this footprint is attributed to the feed used for our poultry products, and approximately 20 thousand tonnes are used as part of the feed for egg laying hens.
Our approach to sustainable soy
We have divided our strategy into two phases:
In phase 1, we will act as a catalyst for change. We recognise the need to take immediate action in our own supply chains and stimulate market demand for sustainable, zero-deforestation soy.
In phase 2, we want sustainable, zero-deforestation soy to be the norm. Aiming for market transformation, we want to see physical supply chains of sustainable, zero-deforestation soy into the UK and Europe.
In addition to the above commitments, we support the following industry groups:
Founding member of the UK Roundtable for Sustainable Soy– The Roundtable brings together significant players in the UK soya market, providing a pre-competitive space for companies and industry associations to work together to achieve a shared goal of a secure, resilient, sustainable supply of soya to the UK.
In 2018, Lidl became a signatory to the Cerrado Manifesto, a call to action to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in Brazil’s Cerrado. Signatories “commit to working with local and international stakeholders to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in the Cerrado”.