3Keel release 2021 collective retail and food service report

17th November 2022

3Keel’s collective soy initiative report brings together data from the supply chains of the major European retailers and food service to shed light on the challenges faced, and how to collectively work towards solutions for achieving deforestation and conversion free soy.

Companies are under increasing pressure to achieve responsible soy supply chains, from civil society, incoming due diligence legislation and industry-wide initiatives. Whilst many companies have set this as a commitment, there lacks transparency within supply chains on progress made to date, and how far there is yet to go.

The majority of soy within European diets is consumed ‘indirectly’ as soy meal through its use as a protein source in animal feed. Indeed, the European Union imports most soy from South America, of which 90% is used in animal feed, particularly for poultry and pork.

2021 saw significant changes in the soy sector: from developing due diligence legislation, the release of the 2021 FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines, to an uptick in collective industry initiatives, with manifestos launching in the UK, France and the Netherlands.

3Keel’s fourth report, which builds on previous iterations (2020 Collective Retail Soy Initiative Report), gathers information and shares transparency on the soymeal used in feed within key European retailers and food service supply chains. This report engaged 675 companies within retail and food sector supply chains – 35% more than previous years – and provides unique insights and sector specific recommendations for achieving deforestation and conversion free soy.

Key findings include:
Supply chains are not yet ready for incoming due diligence legislation

  • Governments are shifting ever closer to finalising due diligence legislation for forest risk commodities in the UK, EU and USA.
  • Systematic change is needed across all actors of the supply chain to meet requirements. A key obstacle is the lack of information flowing down the supply chain on origin, and deforestation and conversion free guarantees.

Certification is still the primary mechanism for sustainable soy, but this doesn’t go far enough

  • 42% of soy is certified, compared to 38% in 2020.
  • But most certification is falling under book and claim or area mass balance. Physically segregated certified volumes account for only 15% of total soy volumes.
  • Whilst certification remains an important tool towards achieving sustainable soy, it is not a standalone solution

Most soy is of unknown origin, and only 4% was possible to trace back to low-risk countries

  • Most soy used by companies is of an unknown country of origin, with 74% of soy being listed as ‘multi-origin’. Of soy where the country of origin is known, only 4% is coming from low-risk countries, such as the USA or Europe.

The soy market is dominated by a handful of traders

  • If you exclude the portion of soy that is not traceable to a trader, a large proportion of soy falls to Cargill (22%), followed by Cefetra (17%), ADM (11%) and Bunge (8%).

Companies have far to go to meet manifesto requirements

  • Along food retailer’s supply chains, there is a much lower level of engagement with manifestos and their requirements. When asked if they were aware of the French or UK Soy Manifestos, a worrying majority reported no awareness – 71% of companies. Just 10% of respondents were aware of the French Manifesto, and 27% were aware of the UK Soy Manifesto. Just 4% of companies had become signatories of either or both manifestos.

Soy alternatives are improving, but barriers remain

  • Pressure is growing to find alternatives to soy in animal feed to reduce the environmental impact of livestock farming; however, factors including cost, quality, performance and difficulties with legality in certain markets are restricting innovation.
  • The most popular alternatives being tested, in descending order, are sunflower meal, peas or legumes, insects, rapeseed meal, beans or lupins, algae, and synthetic amino acids.

For more information and sector specific recommendations you can see the full report here.