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I’m proud to announce that Co-op has committed to 100% sustainable soy to help to stop deforestation, taking action from today. This is part of our pledge to protect our most important ingredients and care for the environments they’re sourced from in our Future of Food ambition.

You may not realise, but soy has much more to do with your diet than you think. And the way it is sourced can have a big impact on the world’s forests and peatland. That’s why we’re making some vital moves to the way we source it responsibly.

The average European consumer eats around 61kg of soy a year, but knows very little about it, or the impact it has on the environment. So here’s a quick run-down on soy and how we’re sourcing it.

What is soy/soya?

Soy is soybean or soya beans, and is a type of legume native to Asia. It is widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses.

What is soy/soya used for?

You may think of soy (or soya) as just a meat replacement or for people who can’t eat dairy. But the majority of soy formed is used in animal feed in supply chains because it’s high in protein.

For Co-op, only 1% of the soy we use is in the products sold in stores, the other 99% is in our supply chains as animal feed. So if you think about it in that way, soy plays a part in the production of a huge majority of products.

Demand for soy is also growing due to increasing demand for animal feed and the rising global consumption of meat.

Why we need to source soy responsibly

The increase in demand for soy is having a major impact on the environment in major soy producing countries in South America, as well as the wildlife which depends on the native vegetation for its very survival. This is an issue which will create a major challenge for the environment tomorrow, unless decisive steps are taken today.

Soy requires large areas of land for growth which has led to land being cleared for agriculture. This has devastating effects on the environments where soy is sourced.

However soy can be farmed without deforestation and this is what Co-op is committing to. Our 100% sustainable soy commitment means we’re covering 100% of our footprint using RTRS soy credits, working with our suppliers to measure how we’re doing transparently. We are ensuring that we reach 100% physical sustainable and deforestation free soy across our supply chain by 2025.

Soy is a vital ingredient in our food supply chain, but we need to be focused on prioritising sustainable production to make sure we can keep using it without risk to the planet.

“Congratulations to Co-operative Group for their decision to purchase significant amount of RTRS credits. It represents a very concrete step towards fulfilling the objectives of the Cerrado Manifesto Statement of Support (SoS). It also allows to directly support responsible, full conversion-free soy production in the Northern Cerrado, contributing to end the largest front of ecosystems conversion due to soy on the Planet.” Jean-François Timmers, WWF Global Soy Lead.

Read more about our pledge to protect our most important ingredients and care for the environments they’re sourced from in our Future of Food ambition coop.co.uk/FutureofFood

Sarah Wakefield
Sustainable Sourcing & Fairtrade Manager

Read more on our Future of Food commitment

Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. Hi Joy, since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen plastic use increase.
    We are committed to only using 100% recyclable plastic packaging where it helps reduce food waste, extends longevity and for consumer safety – particularly relevant given the Coronavirus crisis. Reducing the environmental impact of our products is, and always has been, at the very core of the our efforts.
    Co-op is proud to support locally sourced products and has done for many years, working with hundreds of local suppliers, farmers and growers and we want to reassure our customers that this has not changed. Thanks for getting in touch. Have a great day. ^Andrea

  2. I am a very long term co op member, buying as much as possible from our local store.
    My concerns are:
    The very high % of fruit and veg wrapped in plastic.

    The very high % of fruit and veg imported from abroad.

    This is a genuine concern for me and I have now stopped purchaseing food from overseas driving further afield to buy locally grown from farm shops.

    I ahave a heartfelt wish that the co op would source there largest percentage of food locally and stop reduce imports by 80%.
    The store manager when I asked why my Broccoli was wrapped in cling film replied ‘ If a product is wrapped it will last longer and that’s what customers demand! Do we?

  3. Thankyou.
    I really appreciate a big supermarket taking this kind of care. Respect and gratitude.

  4. Thanks for informing people about the use of soy in animal feed – people can find more information on this at the Sustainable Food Trust site which looks in detail at how much feed goes to livestock. Then they might want to look at how much deforestation is caused by grazing cattle on land that was once beautiful forests. Agree with the plastic comments too – perhaps get more people to bring reusable containers for dried goods? Proper paper bags for things like loose mushrooms/peppers/tomatoes/other fruit and veg?

  5. wow this is really good how commited you are I didn’t realise this about soy

  6. Great news but what about Palm Oil

  7. well done, I have used soya milk for years. I agree with cutting down on plastic,wrapped veg etc

  8. Well done on your campaigning and hope other Supermarkets follow suit

  9. very good on soy but on plastic use – how about reducing the plastic packing of fruit and veg and offering more non-packaged. Our local Coop often has no alternative (i.e. loose items ) to buying F+V in plastic packaging


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