Soy is a globally traded commodity produced in both temperate and tropical regions and serves as a key source of protein and vegetable oils. It is an incredibly useful and versatile ingredient and in its simplest form is sold as dried beans, and soy milk and yoghurt are popular dairy alternatives. Look closer at ingredient lists and you’ll find soy flour, soy oil and soy sauce and soy lecithin in chocolate.
The main use of soy though is in animal feed. It is one of the highest quality vegetable proteins available in volume and brings unique nutritional benefit, in particular helping maintain healthy growth so that products like pork and chicken can be an everyday part of our diet.
The use of soy is not without its challenges and despite industry efforts and some notable success stories, soy continues to contribute to deforestation in South America, albeit at a dramatically lower rate than before. We have made major investments in a broad range of programmes to address the multiple causes of deforestation and support the development of more sustainable soy.
Commitments and targets
Our goal is to ensure that all soy used in our products is sourced from locations that don’t contribute to deforestation.
While we’ve made good progress towards our goal we know lots more still needs to be done. Since launching this commitment in 2008 we have a better understanding of our soy supply chain. To reflect this understanding and our ongoing commitment to preventing deforestation we aim to ensure zero deforestation from the use of soy in the production of M&S products by 2020.
Our supply chain is complex. We don’t own farms or factories and don’t purchase ingredients directly. Most of the ingredients that go into our products are sourced in a global market. That said, in comparison to many others in our industry we are also a relatively low user of globally traded soy.
We provide a mix of market insights, technical expertise and funding to achieve the widespread transformation that needs to happen to help us achieve our goal.
Our approach to sourcing more sustainable soy is as follows:
Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business.
We are working with a number of industry and civil society organisations to tackle the causes of deforestation and promote the benefits of more sustainable soy. Outlined in more detail above, these include the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), the Retail Soy Group, the Consumer Goods Forum and the Amazon Soy Moratorium. We are also working in partnership with Cool Earth, Solidaridad and UNICOOP to support indigenous communities and promote sustainable soy agriculture.