How do we ensure that soy is responsibly produced? Photo: WWF
The modern food chain is largely dependent on soy. Soy is primarily used as fodder to feed food-producing animals. In the EU alone, as much as 90 percent of all imported soy is used as fodder to produce meat, dairy products, eggs and farmed fish. As global consumption of animal based products increases, global soy demand increases as well, especially in South America.
Deforestation and biodiversity loss
Commercial crops such as soy have a direct link to deforestation. As much as 10 percent of the global climate impact can be attributed to deforestation. Often, cultivation techniques of commercial soil involve the use of harmful chemicals, which cause damage to both human health and the environment. Deforestation combined with the use of agricultural chemicals has lead to widespread biodiversity loss, in for example South America where the majority of commercial soy is produced. With the loss of valuable biodiversity also comes the loss of important ecosystem services such as natural water systems and pollination. As problematic as soy production is, its cultivation contributes to economic development of many countries. Nonetheless violations of human rights, environmental consequences and land conflicts must be adressed.
Complex supply chains with poor transparency
Addressing production standards is often a challenge for Swedish companies. The long supply chain, poor transparency and low traceability make it difficult to adress breaches of production standards or conditions. Soy traceability is further complicated by it often being “embedded” in animal food products.
Soy production is directly linked to deforestation and biodiversity loss. Photo: WWF
The Swedish Soy Dialogue was formed as a network in 2014 as a cross-sectoral initiative where members voluntarily contribute to the development of responsibly produced soy. The Soy Dialogue is an unique collaboration where Sweden, a small market on the international scale, creates a united voice in order to improve the standard of soy production of its suppliers.
At the heart of the network’s work is a common commitment that reads: The members of the Soy Dialogue commit, to the extent that they can influence actors within their own supply chain, to ensure responsibly produced soy, used as feed for the production of animal food and soy products for human consumption, regardless of whether the product has Swedish or foreign origin.
“The Soy Dialogue works to ensure that all soy that reaches Swedish consumers, via the network’s members, is responsibly produced by the year 2025.”
The Soy Dialogue approves certain certification systems: Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Members assume accountability that 100% of the soy used in their products are responsibly produced. This is achieved through soy certifications which ensure a trustworthy standard of production, or that the soy comes from a traceable origin that has been assessed to meet the criteria and verified by independent third parties.
The Soy Dialogue approves the certification systems: RTRS (Round Table on Responsible Soy); ProTerra; EU Organic; IFOAM and Donau Soja / Europe Soya as trustworthy standards of responsible soy production.
The demands made by the Swedish food market have the potential to both develop a market for sustainable soy products, and stimulate responsible soy production in South America and other soy producing countries. Responsible production includes criteria that protect nature, ecosystems and local communities, acceptable working conditions and the responsible use of agricultural chemicals. An important requirement is that the production of soy does not occur in ecologically valuable areas, or destroy important ecosystem services, and social or cultural values.
Since 2018 Axfoundation has spearheaded the Soy Dialogue by coordinating and developing the work within the network.
The Soy Dialogue represents a network of 50 Swedish members, representing feed companies, food producers, food retailers and interest groups throughout the supply chain, from farm to fork.