Sustainable Soy

Policy Position

The UK is a small player in the complex global market for soy, importing only 0.3%[1] of the world’s annual crop of soy beans and soy oil.

Some UK imports are used by FDF members and we support the need for those imports to be from more sustainable sources.

To tackle this, we support the aims and the multi-stakeholder approach of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) to bring certified sustainable soy to the market, which is similar to the approach adopted for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

FDF encourages the active participation from its members in this global initiative and looks forward to it delivering against its aims.

1. HMRC and USDA 2016


  1. In total, around 185 million tonnes of vegetable oil are produced worldwide every year, of which 28.9% is soy oil[[2]], the world’s second largest oil crop. China (29%), USA (19%), Argentina (16%) and Brazil (14%) are the biggest producers of soy oil, contributing 77% of the world’s total production[3].
  2. As part of a global strategy on sustainable sourcing of commodities, the RTRS was formally established in May 2006. The RTRS is a multi-stakeholder process containing more than 190 members across the world[4], including soy producing and importing countries such as Brazil, Argentina, the United States, India, China, Singapore and several EU countries. RTRS aims to build a global and participatory process that promotes economically viable, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable soy production.
  3. Following a two year process which included a year of field trials, in June 2010 the RTRS General Assembly approved the amended Principles and Criteria (P&C) in the form of a certification scheme – the RTRS Standard for Responsible Soy Production.
  4. Since June 2010 the necessary instruments have been put in place to facilitate trade in RTRS certified soy. A ‘progressive entry level for RTRS production standard certification’ will enable gradual implementation and ensure compliance as producers move from regular production to implementation of the RTRS Standard. Producers in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and India have been RTRS certified and the first sale of certified soy to the European market took place in June 2011.
  5. For companies wishing to buy RTRS certified soy, two mechanisms have been created:
    • For physical flow: the ‘Chain of Custody’ allows certified production via the Mass Balance or Segregation supply chain mechanisms
    • For non-physical flow: the 'RTRS Credit Trade Platform' launched in 2011 is comparable to the Greenpalm Book and Claim system used by the RSPO, through which certificates are bought and sold on a virtual platform. The first 100,000 credits were sold in June 2011.
  6. In addition to the RTRS process, the soybean crushing industry in Brazil initially agreed in July 2006 to a two-year moratorium on the procurement of soy crops from newly deforested land in the Amazon biome; the forested area of the Amazon region in Brazil. The moratorium has repeatedly been extended, most recently in May 2016 when it was renewed indefinitely. This initiative is seen as a complement to the RTRS process.

2. USDA 2015
3. USDA 2015
4. RTRS 2014

Last reviewed: 19 May 2016