Blog: BIAZA signs up as a supporter to the new UK Soy Manifesto

Posted: 9th November, 2021

‘Pledge means UK signatories commit to purchasing soy that is deforestation free, protecting forests and valuable native wildlife ‘. Chester Zoo's Cat Barton tells us more... 

For the past few years, I have been proud to wear two ‘zoo hats’ in the UK, as Field Conservation Manager at Chester Zoo and as BIAZA’s representative on sustainable agriculture and forestry.  The topic of sustainable agriculture has become even more relevant recently, following the declaration made at COP26 by producer and consumer governments on protecting forests and land use.  Signed by over 100 countries, this declaration pledges to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.  This commitment, amongst others made at COP26, are much needed steps forward by leaders, but action is needed right now.  

With climate change and biodiversity loss being such urgent and pressing challenges for us all, it’s evident that these problems cannot be solved without a focus on industry and wider sector transformation.  The conversion of forests and other ecosystems for agriculture is a leading cause of climate change and accounts for 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions.  Alarmingly, a quarter of global companies’ revenues depend on only four forest-risk commodities; palm oil, soy, cattle and timber.  We need to tackle these commodities as a collective and work to reduce the impact of all agriculture on nature, ensuring the production of commodities that make their way into our supply chains doesn’t cause more loss to biodiversity.  

Despite starting our sustainable agriculture journey focussing on sustainable palm oil, BIAZA are now involved in critical conversations on responsible soy production and procurement, addressing conservation challenges in countries such as Brazil where biodiversity and habitat are declining at an alarming rate.  

The move to a focus on soy, particularly spotlighting the use of sustainable soy in animal feed where the commodity is most prevalent, is a key next step and priority.    As such, since 2019 BIAZA have been a member of the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya.  The UK Roundtable forms the core of a wider UK Sustainable Soya Initiative, and brings together significant players in the UK soy 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 soy to the UK.  The Roundtable also offers a platform to explore wider debates around sustainable protein production and consumption for the future.

Today marks a key milestone in the release of the UK Soy Manifesto from UK industry. 

The manifesto is about action, and 27 companies have committed to Step Up On Soy, supported by key industry associations including BIAZA.   This manifesto is putting down a marker for industry in the UK – we need to act now to make a difference, we need to stop taking from nature and build a better future for us all.  

Read more from the official press release below: 
Today (9th November 2021), UK industry leaders from 27 major businesses – all of the biggest UK grocery retailers (including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Iceland), some of the largest meat producers (including Avara Foods, 2 Sisters Food Group, Cranswick, Pilgrim’s UK), and food service companies and brands (such as Danone UK and Ireland, Nestle UK and Ireland, Nando’s, KFC UK and Ireland and McDonald’s UK and Ireland) united in signing the UK Soy Manifesto.  This commits them to cutting deforestation and habitat destruction out of UK soy supply chains as soon as possible, and by 2025 at the latest.

The UK’s consumption of soy – 3.5 million tonnes in 2020 – though small in global terms, is contributing to pressure on biodiverse landscapes such as the Cerrado, the Atlantic Forest, the Gran Chaco and Chiquitania in South America. UK consumption of soy in 2017 led to an estimated 3,081 hectares of deforestation, an area twice the size of the City of London.  Soy is one of the main contributors to the UK’s deforestation and conversion footprint today.  Most of this soy is used in the form of animal feed.

UK industry has already started to take action to protect forests and other natural ecosystems by improving transparency and information sharing throughout UK soy supply chains and driving increased use of certification to support sustainable soy production in South America. But there is a shared recognition of the need to take more ambitious action, faster and at scale. Mainstream transformation cannot be achieved by companies working on their individual supply chains alone. Businesses all across supply chains, as well as soy producers, must take responsibility and act together.  

You can read more here : www.uksoymanifesto.uk

 

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