The demand for soya beans has massively increased in recent decades. Europe alone imports about 25 million tonnes of South American soya every year, which is predominantly used for animal feed in meat, eggs and dairy production. South American soya cultivation has drastic consequences because of the vast area of land it requires. It is a major contributing factor to the clearing of the Amazonian forests which, in turn, is destroying the habitats of numerous plants and animals. Deforestation releases large volumes of greenhouse gases while, at the same time, land is being seized illegally from smallholders and indigenous people. No longer willing to sit by and accept the grave consequences on the environment and on human rights, the REWE Group has reached an important milestone. All private-label eggs, milk and fresh poultry at REWE and PENNY are now produced using sustainable soya as animal feed and are certified as deforestation-free.
To minimise the long-term impact of animal food products on deforestation in South America, the REWE Group is continuously analysing all supply chains that involve the extensive use of soya. This is because an environmental assessment that is similar to the CO2 footprint, can also be carried out for soya. The “soya footprint” measures the amount of soya animal feed used in animal products, such as meat. “Thanks to our commitment to cultivating European soya over the past few years, the entire soya footprint of our private-label eggs, milk and fresh poultry at REWE and PENNY has been certified as deforestation-free,” says Marcel Weber, REWE Group Managing Director of Private-Label Goods National and International. This means that for the supply chains of its private-label products of animal origin, the REWE Group has adopted a principle of gradually reducing soya bean meal imports from South America and certifying non-substitutable South American soya (for example, using the ProTerra Standard). It is also facilitating the cultivation of soya in Europe and the use of alternative, local sources of protein.
As a founding member of the Donau Soja Organisation, the REWE Group has cooperated with around 220 farmers since 2015 to support the cultivation of over 55,000 tons of certified, deforestation-free soya in the Zupanja region of Croatia. The organisation advocates sustainably produced, non-genetically engineered soya from Europe that helps to create added value in the Danube basin region. Donau Soja thus supports an independent, environmentally sustainable source of protein in Europe, thereby reducing the pressure on the sensitive regions of South America. Targeted training opportunities and an independently controlled and certified supply chain from the soya field all the way through to the supermarket shelves are intended to help steadily expand the cultivation of European soya.