Tackling deforestation

FEFAC is fully engaged in facilitating market transparency on responsible soy sourcing, including deforestation-free soy. The Soy Sourcing Guidelines are the key tool FEFAC has developed for this purpose. 

FEFAC acknowledges the importance of EU and global efforts and initiatives to counter biodiversity loss, halt deforestation and promote the respect of human and labour rights, in line with UN SDGs and EU “Green Deal” targets. Soy is considered a forest risk commodity in some biomes and the European soy value chain carries a responsibility to take action where it can make a direct positive contribution. FEFAC welcomes the political ambition by the EU and global institutions to step up joint action on this issue encouraging public-private partnerships. Our members are keen to explore synergies of legislative frameworks and market-led initiatives involving soy exporting countries as equal partners, thereby increasing their capacity to deliver on tackling deforestation. Our industry fully endorses the ambition to “not contribute to the problem”, however we wish to highlight that the global effort to “minimise the deforestation risk” must be held accountable against the “real and measurable impact on the ground”. FEFAC considers that sustainable land management and responsible supply chains are mutually supportive core elements of any successful risk-minimisation strategy, delivering recognition and value for producers while providing verifiable assurance to final consumers.

FEFAC highlights the importance of considering the “deforestation-risk exposure” of the animal feed sector when it comes to its soy use, as opposed to a focus only on ‘certified deforestation-free soy’. According to the IDH Soy Monitor 2019, 80,4% of EU soy imports in 2019 originated from low deforestation risk areas. This means that for the majority of soy imported to Europe, deforestation is not a concern. The use of certified deforestation-free soy must be placed in this context, which according to the IDH Soy Monitor 2019 was 25.3% for that year. In addition, the same report found that 42,2% of EU28+ soybean meal consumed in 2019 was compliant with FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines 2015.

In February 2021 FEFAC released an upgraded version of its Soy Sourcing Guidelines, which now contain 73 criteria in total, with 54 essential and 19 desired criteria. The FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines 2021 are not a new certification standard, but in fact a benchmarking programme against which existing soy certification schemes and programmes can apply for comparison. This benchmarking is executed independently by ITC, the International Trade Centre. The FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines include a desirable criterion on ‘conversion-free soy’. The soy schemes and programmes that have successfully applied and passed the benchmarking exercise against the Soy Sourcing Guidelines are displayed in the FEFAC Soy Benchmarking Tool on ITC Standards Map.

The FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines 2021 are intended to facilitate market transparency on responsible and conversion-free soy for those operators who offer and purchase soy meeting certain sustainability criteria in relation to good environmental, social and agricultural practices of soy production. Soy schemes and programmes are often different in their approaches, design, focuses and application, which is usually related to the geographical origin and the type of scheme owner (e.g. farmer-owned, trader-owned, commercial). Once a scheme or programme has passed the benchmarking exercise, market operators are at least assured that the ambitious requirements in the FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines 2021 have been met for this scheme or programme.

In May 2019 FEFAC and the International Trade Centre (ITC) developed the opportunity for feed companies to join a Responsible Soy Declaration (see at bottom of webpage). As part of their commitment, feed companies agree to take specific actions regarding the sourcing of responsibly produced soy products used in compound feed manufacturing in the EU by 2025, from home-grown and imported origins.

FEFAC closely cooperates with its EU value chain partner organisations FEDIOL and COCERAL in discussions to tackle deforestation embedded in soy supply chains. Jointly, constructive dialogues are maintained with key stakeholders such as ABIOVE, Aapresid, the Consumer Goods Forum, the Retailer Soy Group, the Soft Commodities Forum, the Amsterdam Partnership Declaration, IDH and the Accountability Framework. FEFAC is a member to the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Protecting and Restoring the World’s Forests hosted by the European Commission.