The giant discount European supermarket chain Lidl has lent its considerable influence to the growing movement by supermarket retailers and soy producers towards developing a sustainable global supply chain.
In the United Kingdom, Lidl has promised to ensure its entire soy supply comes from sustainable, deforestation-free certified sources. The company’s British division claims this is the most responsible sourcing policy for soy of any supermarket chain. Lidl also says it is the first retailer in the U.K. to purchase 100 percent sustainably-sourced soy.
Lidl is a division of Schwarz Group, one of Europe’s largest retailers, with 10,500 stores in 30 countries. The company said it will work with all its U.K. suppliers to "achieve physically traceable, sustainable, zero-deforestation soy in the long term.”
But expanding soy production comes with a cost for the environment and for local communities—leading to the loss of forests and other native vegetation in the Amazon and cerrado across South America.
Lidl insists it wants to act as a catalyst for change. “We recognize the need to take immediate action in our own supply chains and stimulate market demand for sustainable, zero-deforestation soy,” the company announced in a public statement.
During the first phase, which started in September 2018, Lidl will purchase RTRS certificates on an annual basis through a “Book and Claim Direct Trade” approach to cover 100 percent of its soy footprint, creating what the company says is a clear market signal for sustainable soy.
The second phase aims for market transformation, with supply chains of responsibly sourced soy finding its way in both the U.K. and the European continent. Through the U.K. Roundtable of Sustainable Soy, Lidl says it intends to define “sustainable, zero-deforestation” soy and work with its suppliers and the entire soy industry to develop a range of mechanisms to achieve its goal, including strengthening standards beyond RTRS.
Soy giant Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) also said earlier this year that it would move towards zero-deforestation across its supply chain by embedding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its updated raw materials strategy.
As it strives to attain this goal, LDC has committed to publish information on all soy plantations it sources from - either directly or indirectly - as it already does with palm oil.
Campaigners such as Mighty Earth are applauding the industry’s actions. “There’s now no reason for McDonald’s and other companies to continue doing business with deforesters,” the group’s chief executive, Glenn Hurowitz, said after LDL’s announcement in July.
Image credit: Bambizoe/Flickr
Based in southwest Florida, Amy has written about sustainability and the Triple Bottom Line for over 20 years, specializing in sustainability reporting, policy papers and research reports for multinational clients in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, ICT, tourism and other sectors. She also writes for Ethical Corporation and is a contributor to Creating a Culture of Integrity: Business Ethics for the 21st Century. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.