Waitrose & Partners responsible soya sourcing

We are committed to only using responsibly sourced soya. Our long-standing target is for 100% of the soya used in animal feed for the production of own-brand meat and farmed fish products, milk, and eggs to be organic or certified sustainable by the end of 2020.

Soya (or soy), is a valuable and versatile ingredient which can be found in products ranging from tofu to chocolate. However, the main use of soya is in animal feed. As a high protein bean, it’s a key ingredient in some animal diets, particularly for our pigs, poultry and farmed fish.

Soya supply chains can be associated with negative environmental and social issues. Most soya is grown in South America, where deforestation and the conversion of natural habitats - along with the associated impacts on biodiversity and climate change - is a particular risk. That’s why we’re committed to achieving ‘zero deforestation’ in our own supply chains, and to working with others to support progress towards a sustainable soya industry more widely. We also collaborate with our suppliers to explore alternatives to soya in animal feed.

Our journey to sustainable soya

Waitrose & Partners has worked with suppliers on responsible soya for a number of years, primarily via our Livestock Steering Group, which accounts for the majority of our soya footprint. We have reported our progress annually in the John Lewis Partnership Corporate Responsibility Report.  

Working with independent expert consultants, each year, we carry out a detailed exercise to understand our business' soya footprint. For 2018,  our reporting scope for the soya used in animal feed included all meat and meat ingredients, all fish and fish ingredients, all shell eggs and all liquid milk  for own-brand products. In 2019, we expanded the scope of our commitment further to include all dairy, and the use of eggs and dairy as ingredients.

The results of that exercise are shown below.

Waitrose & Partners: Animal feed soya footprint - 2019:


In 2019, 30.6% of our footprint was certified sustainable via physical supply chains, 15.7% was certified organic and 53.7% was certified via Round Table on Responsible Soy credits.

For the portion of our soya footprint where physical certification isn’t yet possible, we believe that the RTRS credits can be a vital tool to support and incentivise the responsible production of soya.

This year, we purchased 11,938 RTRS credits to support farmers in the Maranhao and Piaui areas of Brazil, home to much of the vulnerable Cerrado ecosystem. Credits provide a financial incentive for these farms to continue their production of responsible soy, rewarding them for their leading production practices, and helping ensure that forests and other native vegetation on their properties are is not cleared for soya production.

Our ultimate goal remains sourcing deforestation and conversion free soya in our animal feed and our products, and to protect biodiverse ecosystems such as the Amazon, Cerrado, and Gran Chaco from further damage. But we recognise that we can’t achieve this on our own. For this reason, we work collaboratively with NGOs, government, and other businesses involved in the soya supply chain to make this a reality across the market, including as part of the Retail Soya Group, The UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya, The Retail Soya Initiative, Cerrado SoS, and Soy Transparency Coalition. 

Having achieved our 2020 target, we are now developing new targets to take us beyond our 2020 commitments.

Waitrose & Partners commitment to responsible soya: the detail

Waitrose & Partners will source 100% of the soya used in animal feed for the production of own-brand meat and farmed fish products, milk, and eggs through organic or certified sustainable sources by the end of 2020.

Scope includes:

● Soya used as animal feed in the primary production of meat, poultry, farmed fish, shell eggs and liquid milk and cream

● Soya used as animal feed in the production of meat, poultry, farmed fish, eggs, and dairy used as an ingredient in processed food

Scope excludes:

● Soya used for animal by-products e.g. gelatine
● Soya used for meat or fish-based stocks

All soya for non-organic products must be certified according to one of the following standards:

● The Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS)
● ProTerra
● Danube Soya (Donau Soja) or European Soya
● ISCC PLUS (ISCC 202) with voluntary add-ons 202-01 (environmental management & biodiversity) and 202-02 (classified chemicals)
● Cargill ‘Triple S’
● Cefetra ‘Certified Responsible Soya’ 

We specify these standards based on their ability to deliver on the following Waitrose & Partners policy goals and to deliver against Waitrose & Partners commitments under the Retailer Soya Group sourcing guidelines, the Consumer Goods Forum sourcing guidelines, and the UK Roundtable for Sustainable Soya membership requirements:

1. Support for relevant legal requirements in the country of origin, for example, the Brazilian Forest Code, and support for public/private initiatives that aim to drive continuous improvement in soya production standards, including the Amazon Soya Moratorium and the Cerrado Manifesto.

2. Soya that is produced in a manner which:

● Is deforestation-free, i.e. that in areas at high risk of deforestation, production is prohibited on  land with native forests, native vegetation and high conservation value landscapes, with a conversion cut-off date not later than 2009.
●  Is aligned with good agricultural practices, including responsible soil management and responsible chemical management.
● Respects human rights, including the prohibition of forced/child labour, and respect of land rights.

3. The requirement for independent 3rd party verification of sustainability standards 

Supply chain
We require suppliers to source physically certified soya (i.e. from segregated or mass balance supply chains) wherever practicable. Where physical supply is not yet viable, we use soya credits.
Landscape-based approaches
We recognise that certification is one very important approach to sourcing sustainable soya, and that an industry-wide shift to sustainable soya production will likely require additional routes to change. As such, suppliers are also encouraged to explore sourcing from jurisdictional or landscape-based approaches provided that they offer independent verification of legal compliance and deforestation-free production by approved third-party audit providers.

Organic soya
All soya for certified organic products must be procured according to organic regulations, and sourcing organic soya from within Europe is strongly encouraged. In addition, all organic soya is sourced from countries assessed as ‘low risk’ for deforestation.
Beyond 2020
We continue to work with suppliers to move our soya supply to physically certified supply chains or verified sourcing areas (such as jurisdictional approaches). We will keep working with the wider industry to play our part in moving the soya sector, as a whole, to a more sustainable footing.

Having achieved our 2020 target, we are now developing new targets to take us beyond our 2020 commitments.
Supporting wider industry change 
We are active members of the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS), a global platform with members from across the soya supply chain who are committed to promoting the responsible sourcing of soy. We have submitted our annual progress report and purchased RTRS soya credits each year since 2012. 

We have participated in the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya since its inception. We sit on the roundtable Steering Group, where we collaborate with other companies and NGOs to move the whole UK soya supply to a more sustainable footing.

We support the Amazon Soy Moratorium and are signatories to the Statement of Support for the Cerrado Manifesto, declarations which aim to ensure the rainforests and natural grasslands of Brazil are properly protected. 

We are a part of the Retail Soy Group and are founder members of the Soy Transparency coalition: a group of companies working together to achieve transparency on soy traders practices and performance, in order to remove deforestation from soy supply chains.  

Alternatives to soya
We believe that at the same time as sourcing soya more sustainably, it’s important to try to reduce our overall soya footprint, to have the least amount of impact on the environment as we can. We continue to help our suppliers, and other partners explore alternative proteins for animal feed.

Our Forage Protein Programme, where farmers in our beef, lamb and milk supply chains grew new forage protein crops on their farms, is a key example of this. Following this 5-year Innovate UK funded project, collaborating with industry and academic partners, we launched a range of Waitrose Farming Partnership grass and protein mixes for our farmers to grow. 

Waitrose also participated in a four-year Innovate UK funded ‘Optibean’ project exploring using faba beans as a potential replacement for soya in animal feed. Successful feeding trials have been carried out across our pig, poultry, egg and fish supply chains.

Growing and sourcing animal feed sustainably can be complex. Animal feed has to be right for the health and wellbeing of the animal and for the quality of the final product – as well as ensuring minimal environmental impact in the growing stage.

To help bring structure to this complexity, we’ve been working with NGO Forum for the Future on their ‘Feed Compass’ project. The ‘Feed Compass’ sets out nine principles for assessing sustainable animal feed, which helps guide both the conversations we have with our suppliers, the way we make our sourcing decisions, and where we put our focus for the future.  

Read about our approach to other responsible and ethically sourced materials like timber and paper, cotton and palm oil.