No Waitrose food is genetically modified - all food and ingredients are from conventional or organic crops. Our internal systems and external verification platforms track the use of soya as ingredients in own label products to ensure they come from a non GM source.
Waitrose GM and soya position
We intend to stay as GM free as we can for as long as we can. We firmly believe this is what our customers want, although they are well aware of the complexities around the subject.
We fully understand that some customers would like a wider choice of produce from animals fed on diets containing non GM protein. With that in mind, all the animals that supply our organic meat, eggs and milk are fed diets containing non GM protein. Waitrose pioneered the sale of organic food in supermarkets and we have grown to be one of the biggest retailers of organics in Britain with more than 25% of the UK market.
In our non organic ranges, we make every effort to use non GM animal feed in close collaboration with our suppliers.
Waitrose production standards for ruminants require cattle are grazed on pasture when available. Our dairy cows are able to enjoy outside pasture for at least 120 days a year.
Our pigs have soy in their diets but we have significantly reduced the volume included over the last decade by improvements in overall livestock performance and by the use of alternative protein sources. In a first for a UK retailer, from October 2016, our pig supply chain has begun sourcing non GM Danube soy – read the full story below:
The challenges of soya and our commitment to sustainability
Brazil is a major source of soya (soya meal is the major protein used for animal feed across the globe) but when sourcing there we must be very careful not to contribute in any way to the very real environmental problems of deforestation.
Waitrose is a supporter of the Soya Moratorium (as members of the European Soya Customer Group), a key initiative responsible for driving a huge reduction in the level of deforestation in the Amazon Biome. WWF and others have also highlighted the devastating impact that global soy production is having on the Cerrado savannah in Brazil and other high biodiversity value regions. We will work with stakeholders in the soy supply chain to ensure sourcing of soy from production on land with high conservation value (HCV) and high carbon stock is avoided.
We are members of the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) a global platform with members from across the soy supply chain committed to promoting responsible sourcing of soy. We have submitted our annual progress report and purchased RTRS soya credits each year since 2012.
Find out more at The Round Table on Responsible Soy >
Public commitment on sourcing sustainable soya
We have publicly committed to sourcing 100% of the soy used in feed for the production of own-brand meat, milk, poultry, egg and farmed fish products through certified sustainable sources, including organic and those operated by The Round Table on Responsible Soy and the Pro-Terra Foundation by year end 2020/21.
In 2017 our Feed Producer Group, who source the majority of our soya for animal feed, sourced 69% of soya from more sustainable sources. We are sourcing less soya overall through greater efficiencies and using alternative sources of protein such as our own brand grass and protein mix as well as UK sourced faba beans on some of our pig farms. These are positive moves but do mean a significant amount of certified soya has been removed, so the relative percentage has been reduced for now. We’re on track to meet our 2020 commitment.
Soya beans used in the production of our own label soya drinks are ProTerra Certified.
Alternatives to soya
In addition, and to help ensure continued choice for our customers, we are working to sustainably source a greater amount of non-soya raw materials from the UK.
Waitrose has participated in a four-year Innovate UK funded Optibean project looking into the possibility of producing domestic Faba beans as a potential replacement for soybean in animal feed.
Successful feeding trials have been carried out across our pig, poultry, egg and fish supply chains.
Waitrose ruminant livestock suppliers have also obtained Innovate UK funding for a five-year project to develop ways of incorporating home-grown protein into feeding regimes through eight of our commercial farms. This project has seen some of our producers substituting soya based feeds for crops such as protein rich chicory, lucerne and red and white clover grown on their own farms.
Find out more at Sustainable Forage Protein >
Another example is our initiative to source British grain for our pig farms from within a 50-mile radius of the mill used to manufacture the feed. This is the first such project in the UK, gives us greater autonomy in raw material sourcing and is non-GM.
Waitrose is a member of the Danube Soy Association which promotes sustainable regional non GM European grown soy production.
Learn more about Danube soy here:
We are participants in the Protein Challenge 2040 collaborative platform involving a consortium of organisations convened by ‘Forum for the Future’ looking at how we balance supply and demand of protein for a growing population in a way which is affordable, healthy and good for the environment. Exploring alternative protein sources in animal and aquaculture feed is one of the work stream the consortium is actively pursuing.
Explore more at the Forum for the future >