The French market is now at a tipping point regarding imported commodities linked with deforestation, especially when it comes to soy. As a rich source of protein, soy is a big part of many people’s diets. Aside from its popularity with consumers, the meat and dairy industry has become reliant on soya beans for animal feed. However, the drive to produce increased amounts of cut-price meat and dairy is destroying forests and carbon rich eco-systems, especially in South America, (across savannahs like The Cerrado in Brazil), in order to get the land for soy production.
Having worked more intensively in France on the soy sector over the last two years, Earthworm Foundation has witnessed an unprecedented level of cooperation among organisations, syndicates and civil society to bring change into the French market. This change has been fostered by the Stratégie Nationale De Lutte Contre la Déforestation Importée (SNDI), put in place by the government, with the aim of ending the import of products associated with deforestation. It has resulted in some very bold moves from the private sector in that area, leading to key individual actions. For example, Lidl is working on all its supply chain. It wants to support its suppliers towards more transparency and to substitute imported soy with locally sourced proteins.
This is part of a collective move towards a robust yet practical approach for soy production.
For instance, we can see retailers in France working to understand their supply chain in detail, embracing the fact that change will come through strong cooperation with every node of the supply chain. We see also a better understanding of the issues on the ground and a call for impactful and scalable solutions. In particular, this has led to a recent move of the French market towards engagement in order to avoid soya coming from potential deforested and converted areas in their supply chain. Now, it is time for the French government to put actions in place, to support this unprecedented move from the private sector and collaboration of NGO and campaigning organisations.
We believe there is also an opportunity for French agriculture and feed manufacturers to develop alternative supply chains, with farmers growing proteins locally. This re-localization and redevelopment of protein supply chains is something that can be supported by the government, by supporting the development of alternative locally grown legume crop supply chains. Developing other origins, in areas where there is no deforestation risk is also an option to leverage change.
Earthworm Foundation is proud to have been working within soy to change practices for the better and we remain hopeful of further positive change. We whole-heartedly encourage the government to provide this support. It can be the catalyst for other countries to follow suit when it comes to creating a more sustainable soy supply chain. Only then, can we start to see real change.