The Soy Toolkit: five steps to sustainable soy

Pedro Amaral

The Soy Toolkit aims to guide traders, processors and retailers through all the new and emerging initiatives and tools available to help ensure responsible sourcing of soy. In this guest blog, Proforest’s Pedro Amaral explains more.

Soy is a versatile crop — we eat it in salad dressings, cakes, cookies, and pies. It feeds our poultry, cattle and pets. It is used to create biofuels, plywood, candles, crayons, and foam. But there is concern that in some of the places where it is cultivated there exist many social and environmental impacts — including deforestation, labour rights abuses and the destruction of unique landscapes. Brazil’s Cerrado is one such place of concern. In the Cerrado, the world’s most bio-diverse savanna, soy production accounts for 90% of all cultivate crops produced there.

As awareness of the potential social and environmental impact of soy grows, many soy traders, processors and retailers have committed to responsible sourcing commitments. In parallel, a wide range of initiatives and tools have been developed to support the responsible sourcing of soy.

So far, so good. But between the commitments being made and the implementation tools being developed there is a gap. It can be daunting for companies to keep up with the fast-evolving landscape of initiatives designed to decouple soy from environmental and social issues — and the complexity of issues and range of questions companies are being required to address grows ever larger.

The Proforest Soy Toolkit aims to address this knowledge gap. It takes the responsible sourcing process and breaks it into manageable chunks — using Proforest’s responsible sourcing guide as a framework.

It makes an assessment of all the initiatives, approaches, tools and services that can be used at each stage of the process and provides advice and guidance to soy company staff to help them access the right tool at the right time, for the right stage of their supply chain.

By making engagement with these initiatives more accessible to companies, the toolkit aims to facilitate their use by companies– promoting responsible sourcing of soy across the sector.

The 5-element approach to the responsible sourcing of soy

The tool kit provides a stepwise process to help companies understand the risks in their supply chains and sourcing, and how to take action to ensure they are addressing those risks, not only once but continuously. The 5-element approach includes:

Element 1 — Set goals and plan the Implementation

Devise a plan to implement a company’s commitments on soy or reduced deforestation (integrating it into the company’s existing policies, processes and initiatives).

Element 2 — Understand supply chain risks

Ensure implementation of commitments happens on the ground by soy producers. Depending on where they sit on the supply chain, different strategies are needed. Companies need to understand which risks of non-compliance with the policy they might face and plan for further engagement.

Element 3 — Engage suppliers

Companies need to work with their direct suppliers to raise awareness and invite them to commit to reduced deforestation policies. They also need to assess suppliers’ performance as they implement the policies, and develop and support implementation of an action plan to ensure they are working towards meeting the sourcing policies.

Element 4 — Establish a purchase control system

Clarity over companies’ actions depending on suppliers’ different levels of performance allows for faster and safer decisions. Companies will understand how to implement a purchase control system that will enable sourcing procedures to address the requirements of sourcing policies, and what to do when a supplier performs below the desired level.

Element 5 — Monitor, verify and report

It is important to monitor, verify and report progress both internally and externally, not only to track progress and review goals and strategies, but to make the process transparent and ensure credibility and accountability.

The goal of the Soy Toolkit is to facilitate a greater understanding for international decision-makers about the local tools relevant to their soy sourcing regions or supply chain and to bridge the knowledge gap between headquarters and regional staff. By building companies’ capacity to identify and use the tools best suited to their needs, the Soy Toolkit hopes to empower companies to deliver on their deforestation related commitments.

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