Waitrose has become the first UK retailer to introduce responsibly sourced non-GM soya for animal feed from Europe, reducing its reliance upon South American supply.
In October the grocer landed its first shipment of soya grown in the Danube Region of Europe – an area stretching from the Black Forest to the Black Sea – for use as a source of protein in pig feed used by the retailer’s dedicated pork supplier, Dalehead Foods.
The move marks the start of the retailer’s plans to replace responsibly sourced soya beans from non-deforested land in Brazil, lowering the risk to its supply chain as demand for South American Soya from the developing world increases.
Waitrose Managing Director Rob Collins will outline the initiative to the Waitrose Farming Partnership – the grocer’s dedicated farming group – at a conference today (Tuesday, November 1).
Collins will say: “This is fantastic, innovative and determined thinking and the result of three years’ work by our agriculture team. It fits perfectly into our strategy to improve our supply chain security by sourcing animal feed from raw materials grown at home or within the UK and Europe. This is an example of Waitrose working with our supplier groups to deliver a real benefit to our farmers, our global environment, our business and our customers.”
In its 2016 scorecard on the use of responsibly sourced soya in supply chains, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) gave Waitrose its top score, saying the retailer was well on the way to using 100% sustainable soya by 2020.
In taking the first step towards a completely sustainable animal feed supply chain by opening up a supply route from Europe, Waitrose worked closely with the Danube Soya Producers Association (Donau Soja), a group made up of European soya growers, millers and end users.
Andrew Saunders, Director of Agriculture at Dalehead Foods, adds: “We have recently taken our first delivery of European soya. A number of Waitrose supply chains have carried out trials on the use of European soya, and we are excited to be the first supply chain to use this source.’’
Commenting on the retailer’s decision, Peter Melchett, Policy Director of the Soil Association, says: “We warmly welcome this very important development. GM soya from Latin America is linked to rainforest destruction, so sourcing from the Danube Region and using more UK-grown protein crops, is good for the climate, good for UK farmers, and good for consumers.”
This latest development is part of Waitrose’s work to source livestock feed raw materials closer to the UK. In the ruminant supply chain (beef, lamb and dairy) suppliers are using clovers and other forage proteins to replace imported soya. With monogastric livestock (such as pigs, chickens and duck), soy alternatives such as faba beans are being trialled as a long term soya replacement.