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.



Our Commitment

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.

What is 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:

  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Cheese
  • Beef
  • Egg
  • Milk-based products

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:


Government Advocacy

Signatory of Support to the Cerrado manifesto 

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”.

Responsible and Sustainable Sourcing


We source 100% of our own brand black, green and rooibos tea from either UTZ, Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance third-party certification schemes. We recognise the social and environmental challenges facing tea production, and although we sell a small amount in comparison to the global output, we are committed to doing what we can to promote sustainable production.


Global demand for coffee continues to grow steadily, especially in Europe. However, what coffee farmers earn from selling coffee in parts of South America and Africa is frequently still not high enough to secure their livelihoods. As a major retailer we are aware of our responsibility to ensure that the coffee we sell is sourced in a sustainable manner that improves working conditions and tackles wider social challenges.

Fruit & Veg

Lidl GB is committed to sourcing fruit and vegetables in a responsible and sustainable way. This includes supporting the British farming economy and, when seasonally possible, sourcing fruit and vegetables from long-term British suppliers.

Plants & Flowers

Lidl GB is committed to British sourcing and, when seasonally possible, sources plants and flowers from long-term British suppliers. Due to the growth and nature of the horticultural industry, most of the plants and flowers grown within Europe come from the Netherlands and Italy, whilst a large portion of production takes place in countries where climate conditions are more favourable to grow flowers all year around such as Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Wood & Timber

Increasing global demand for low-cost timber products supports a multi-billion dollar business of illegal and unsustainable logging in forests worldwide. The world’s natural forests cannot sustainably meet this soaring global demand for timber products under weak forest management practices, making it critical that we take action to ensure that the wood-based fibres used in our products and packaging are from sustainable sources.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is best grown near the equator, with Indonesia and Malaysia being the major producing countries for the global export market. When grown in a non-sustainable way, palm oil can lead to devastating deforestation and harm to the natural environment. We are committed to sourcing all of our palm oil from third-party sustainable sources.


Bananas are one of our most popular products, grown and produced in countries on the equator and shipped into the UK every day. As bananas can be grown by both smallholder farmers and on large plantations, it is important that we understand our supply chains well to make sure we are able to support sustainable and ethical production in the most appropriate way.


Over 120 of the products that we sell contain cocoa, which represents more than 5% of our total range. We are proud that, since April 2017, 100% of the cocoa we have sold has come from third party sustainably certified sources.


Throughout every Lidl non-food collection, clothing, accessories and home textiles are a core element. As a major buyer of these products, Lidl has a great responsibility when it comes to living, working and environmental conditions in manufacturing countries.


At Lidl GB, our principles of responsible fish and seafood sourcing are to ensure that the fish sold within our product ranges are sourced from the healthiest stocks possible using the least destructive fishing methods, with high regard for both environmental and social standards. Safe-guarding fish stocks for the future is an issue we are passionate about and we are proud of the progress we have made.

Animal Welfare

Through our partners including Red Tractor and RSPCA Assured, alongside animal welfare focussed NGO's, we have specialised contacts placed throughout the industry that can help advise and help action continuous improvement.
We have created strong supplier relationships through our lean buying practices and by championing British farming, we are able to provide product with leading-welfare standards, at an affordable price.