Soy harvest

Soy traders are not yet aligned with crucial anti-deforestation requirements

Soy traders are lagging behind major legislation against illegal deforestation, according to a new report.

An annual report by the Soy Transparency Coalition – which comprises big food and retail companies including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Pilgrim’s – revealed “significant gaps in action” towards achieving fully deforestation-free soy.

Traders are behind where they need to be as they gear up for the European Union’s Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), which comes into force at the end of the year.

The EUDR specifies a December 2020 cut-off date by which soy plantations must be on land that’s not newly deforested. But only three of the coalition’s traders have an aligned requirement with the coming regulation, the report showed.

Traders who do not have a universal cut-off, or one later than 2020, show “no signs of changing commitments to align with a 2020 cut-off date”, according to the research.

“During the assessment, it was not clear what level of engagement traders are having with farmers to prevent deforestation and land conversion in the lead up to a later cut-off date,” said one of the report’s authors, Charlotte Williams.

“There is a risk of the global supply chain splitting, with high-risk soy sent to regions that do not yet have the same level of regulations as the EU.”

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Traders are now under pressure to up transparency across their supply chains as both the EU and the UK are cracking down on deforestation linked to commodities like soy, coffee, cocoa and palm oil.

But traceability of indirect supply – when traders buy soy from other intermediaries – remains a significant challenge, the coalition’s research found.

Many businesses still fail to consistently monitor their entire value chains, despite this being a crucial requirement of the EUDR from 30 December 2024.

The report, carried out by 3Keel on behalf of the coalition, is an annual review of the policies and actions of the 11 most significant soy traders supplying coalition member companies – which also include Cranswick, Hilton Food Group, KFC Europe, M&S, Sofina and Waitrose.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said the report “highlights the need for further commitments and transparency from traders if we want to halt deforestation and conversion in supply chains”.