Responsible soya production
Soya is an increasingly important to the economies of a number of South American countries. On the flip side: large swathes of rainforest are being cleared to accommodate growing demand for soya. Therefore, since 2004 we have been committed to responsible soya production.
Global demand for soya is rising; on the one hand, meat consumption is steadily increasing, particularly in developing and emerging countries, and on the other soya is becoming increasingly important to the human diet. In consequence, tropical forests are being cleared on a vast scale in Brazil and Paraguay. Furthermore, soya producers are transforming ecologically valuable savannah regions into soya fields, to the detriment for flora and fauna.
To halt this negative development, in 2004 the WWF Switzerland developed the Basel criteria for responsible soya cultivation, in partnership with Coop. These require:
- Non-GMO seeds
- Sparing use of fertilizers and pesticides
- No clearance of valuable forests for soya plantations
- Compliance with minimum social standards for workers
For our own label brands, we generally rely on soy from Europe for tofu, soya milk and edamame. Wherever possible we prefer soya from Switzerland.
RTRS: Together for more sustainable soya
We are a founding member of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS). This international network was formed in 2006 and comprises environmental and non-governmental organizations, producers and mill operators and has also launched a catalogue of criteria for responsible soya cultivation. In 2010, in cooperation with other organizations we supplemented the RTRS criteria with a voluntary addition on non-GMO soya.
The Swiss Network for Sustainable Soy sets the industry standard
For cost reasons it was not previously possible to market sustainable soy separately in Switzerland. An industry solution was required, and we were actively involved in drafting it. In 2011, together with the WWF, we co-founded the Swiss Network for Sustainable Soy, or Soy Network Switzerland for short. In addition to Swiss feed importers, today the members of this network include all key representatives of animal feed in the production chain. This goal has now been reached, and the new industry standard we helped create has become recognized and established.
Today, 99 percent (as of 2016) of the soya feeds imported into Switzerland satisfies the Basel criteria, i.e. the documented standards RTRS Non-GM, Pro Terra, Bio Suisse, Europe Soya and Danube Soya.
GM-free soya from Europe
The Danube Soya Association promotes the sustainable and GM-free production of soy in the Danube region and has developed a corresponding standard. The region is ideal in terms of climate and topography for growing high quality soy. However, there was also considerable interest in producing soya outside the Danube region in line with the Danube Soya Standard. The Danube Soya Association therefore set up the Europe Soya Standard at the end of 2015.
As a member of the association we support this development. We use only GM-free and accordingly certified soya from Europe in feed for our Naturafarm laying hens and chickens. In this way we are making an active contribution towards ensuring that no South American rainforests are cut down to make way for soya monocultures. The proximity to Switzerland also means shorter transport routes.
Promotion of Swiss organic soya for tofu, etc.
For our organic soya products we give preference to organic soya from Switzerland. We thus invest in short transport routes, GM-free soya farming, and a partnership with Swiss organic farmers. In order to expand domestic farming and to provide consumers with more high quality organic soya products grown in Switzerland, we are implementing the «Organic food soya from Switzerland» project together with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL). The entire value chain is included, starting with cultivation, variety testing, seed propagation through to product development.
Reduction of soya in feed
Although we are doing a lot to make soya production more sustainable, soya is still a critical raw material for us. We therefore strive to avoid soya wherever possible. One example is our Natura Beef: The young cattle are reared with their mothers for as long as possible. The Natura Beef cows drink their mothers' milk and eat fresh grass and hay. Soya is explicitly forbidden. Natura Beef accounts for around 60 percent of the beef we sell.