Meat companies fail to report soy use

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Around three quarters of cultivated soy is used to feed livestock
Around three quarters of cultivated soy is used to feed livestock

Related tags: Meat, Soybean

A string of European meat processors, including Danish Crown and Moy Park, failed to disclose the source of soybeans this year, raising questions about their commitment to environmental sustainability.

A total of 19 meat firms did not respond to the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) request for information on the source of soybeans used in animal feed. As a result, the WWF has accused the companies of deliberately hiding the source of their soy.

The report revealed that European companies in meat and egg production are “trailing behind​” other retailers in addressing responsibility in soy production. And because the meat industry uses such a large amount of soy to feed its livestock, the WWF said its failure to report soy use was “unacceptable​”.

The Soy Scorecard was published on Monday 31 May. It is a review of 133 leading European food companies that highlights the actions businesses have taken to adopt responsible soy-sourcing practices​. By only using soy that comes from a responsible source, business can help to stop the deforestation of South America – the world’s biggest soybean-producing region.

No need for transparency

Of the companies who did not respond to the WWF’s report, France had the highest number, with five businesses failing to answer. The UK had the second-largest number of non-respondents with four, including Moy Park and 2 Sisters Food Group, refusing to confirm if their soy came from a sustainable source.

Poland had three non-compliant firms (Cedrob, Farmutil HS and Sokolow). Belgium and Denmark had two firms apiece with Renmans and Viangro, and Tican and Danish Crown respectively.

Van Rooi Group from the Netherlands and Finland’s poultry producer Atria were the other companies to not disclose information.

Environmental damage

A spokesman for Cedrob said there was no reason for the business to publish details on its soy use.

We are a privately listed company. Shares are in the hands of the owners and we do not have to release any information about us. If our partners would like any information, it’s no problem. But to release this to the public – for what [purpose]? There is no need.​”

The spokesman refused to comment on the WWF’s claim that the meat companies have deliberately hid the source of their soy.

However, the WWF’s senior advisor on market change, Sandra Mulder, said it is “clear that many companies take advantage of the lack of consumer awareness about soy in order to do nothing on this issue​”. In total, 69 food companies did not respond to the WWF’s call for transparency – more than half of the 133 business approached.

Consumers want responsibility

Soy production is largely carried out in South America and environmental rights’ groups have long campaigned against this, raising concern over deforestation, rising greenhouse gas emissions and the erosion of soil.

Despite the fight put up by animal rights’ groups, soy production is big-money business and over 75% of cultivated soy is used to feed animals.

The WWF also suggested in its report that smart meat companies should be prepared to meet consumer demand for responsible soy in the future.

A spokesperson for Moy Park, said: “We place a very high importance on responsible business practices. Moy Park has a strong commitment to sustainability through multiple initiatives for protecting the environment, responsible sourcing and resource utilisation. The company sources all soy from reputable international suppliers. We source all feed ingredients subject to strict customer specifications.​”

Karl Christian Moeller, chief analyst at Danish Crown, said: “As a responsible company we do our outermost to insure that the soybeans we source are produced in a sustainable way. However we chose not to respond to the WWF’s inquiry when we realised that in order to obtain a good score you had to use certificates from either RTRS or the ProFerra Foundation. We do not believe the certificates from RTRS and ProFerra are the only ones to insure a sustainable production. As we do not acknowledge the premisses for the WWF’s inquiry we chose not to answer.​” 

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