Soya, with its wide range of applications, is one of the world’s most important crops. We source it from suppliers in different countries in two main forms: direct soya (soybean oil, soybean meal and their derivatives) and indirect soya (embedded in animal protein ingredients). Although usually not labor-intensive, soya production can be linked to the degradation of natural habitats and land rights abuses. We are working to tackle deforestation and soil degradation by improving the traceability of the soya we source to ensure transparency throughout the supply chain.
Our soya supply chain
In demonstrating progress toward meeting our responsible sourcing commitments, we developed and adopted aligned responsible sourcing definitions and common key performance indicators (KPIs) across all priority raw material categories.
Our approach to sourcing soya sustainably
We understand that nurturing sustainable practices in complex supply chains, such as that for soya, poses challenges that no one company can solve alone. Our approach to responsible sourcing includes actions within and beyond our supply chain, including engaging with suppliers and key stakeholders in the soya sector and its production landscapes. We are also continually developing our embedded soya footprint calculations and origins mapping.
With the support of our implementation partner, Proforest, we developed a Theory of Change for soya. This consolidates the progress we have made over five years of active engagement with suppliers and key stakeholders. It embeds our 2025 vision to ensure a continuous supply of soya from responsible sources, helping develop thriving, resilient communities and stewarding natural resources for future generations.
Our Theory of Change model for soya
Working within the Nestlé supply chain, the Theory of Change directs policy implementation to priority sourcing origins, where positive change is needed and achievable. It is centered on engaging suppliers to build capacity, improve policies, cascade implementation and demonstrate compliance. We recognize that the complexity of our supply chain will result in an extended timeframe for achieving full compliance for indirect soya. That is why we are initially focusing on sourced volumes with certification credits and financial mechanisms. Simultaneously, we will continue to develop a transition path to verified physical volumes.
Beyond our supply chain, we will foster collaboration between our programs and landscape initiatives in priority origins to create shared value for soya producers. We will participate in sector initiatives to address supply chain challenges and leverage solutions.
Through our initiatives and supplier engagement, we will achieve:
- The decoupling of soya expansion from the conversion or destruction of natural habitats.
- The adoption of best practices in soya production.
- Equal, safe and decent conditions for workers involved in soya production.
- Improved access to land and resources for local communities living in soya-producing landscapes.
To hold our suppliers and ourselves accountable and drive industry-wide transparency, we have published the list of our soya suppliers and their crush sites in our supply chain (pdf, 400Kb), along with their countries of origin.
Key to continuously increasing transparency within our own soya supply chain, and in the sector more generally, is engagement with suppliers to gradually map where the soya we source comes from. This is particularly important for two reasons:
- To understand what our exposure is to issues that imply some level of noncompliance to our sustainability commitments, including our Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2.4Mb).
- To promote and raise awareness among our suppliers that improved traceability in the soya sector is critical.
To better understand our supply chain exposure, we have worked with Proforest to develop a risk-based approach to allow traceability to a level where noncompliance risks can be managed. To understand the issue at the subnational level, we develop country risk profiles and run spatial risk assessments using publicly available information about deforestation, protected areas, land and water conflicts, legal compliance and forced labor.
In 2010, we made a deforestation-free commitment for our supply chains, stating that our key commodities, globally, will not be associated with deforestation by 2020. We have been using a combination of tools, including supply chain mapping, certification and on-the-ground verification, to ensure that the soya that we buy is not linked to deforestation or conversion of natural habitat. As of December 2020, 90% of the soya that we buy was assessed as deforestation-free (pdf). We will continue to work with our suppliers, the industry and local stakeholders to accelerate efforts and close the gap by 2022.
Deforestation and conversion of natural habitat is a major challenge within soya supply chains in certain parts of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. This is amplified by the difficulties related to the physical traceability of soybeans. Our objective is to only source products from land that has not been converted from forest or other natural ecosystems in priority countries after 2020.
Nestlé and Purina were early champions of The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) work to help advance adoption of soil health practices on 50% of row crop acres in the US. by 2025. This relates to corn, wheat, soybeans, rice and cotton crops. The farming practices are designed to capture and store carbon in the ground and improve soil’s ability to store and recycle water and nutrients. Cover crops like ryegrass and clover slow soil erosion, enhance water availability and increase biodiversity, while minimizing tillage and increasing seasonal rotation of crops keeps soils fertile, biologically active and intact. In addition to supporting a healthy environment, these measures will also help increase yields and profits – a win for farmers and the planet.
As part of these efforts, TNC launched the reThink Soil Roadmap, outlining critical steps for achieving widespread adoption of soil health practices and highlighting the potential economic and environmental benefits. TNC-led research is supporting the development of these soil health solutions that inform farm and business practices. It is also galvanizing policy, markets and coalitions to maximize the benefits of healthy soils for people, nature and our global climate. We are supporting this research, helping advance a global movement to champion the transformative role that healthy soils can play.
TNC and partners are now using satellite data to foster adoption of soil health practices covering 135 million acres across the US. Recent successes include launching a database that allows the public to access scientific research on the benefits of soil health practices. TNC is now starting a new phase of pilot projects to test carbon and ecosystem services markets to advance soil health and conservation practices in agriculture.
TNC is also partnering with the Soil Health Partnership (an initiative of the National Corn Growers Association) and the Soil Health Institute to accelerate the adoption of soil health management systems on farms in the US Midwest and throughout the nation (see tables).
|# of acres||200 000 acres distributed over 16 US Midwestern states, which is expected to change norms on 100 million agricultural acres in those states|
|Funding contribution||USD 1 million (CHF 880 850) over five years, ending YE 2021|
|Technology contribution||This project uses a great deal of technology, from cutting-edge soil laboratory analysis to nutrient and moisture sensors and satellite imagery. This enables collection of data that generates recommendations to farmers and allows the public to see the adoption of practices over time|
|Phosphorus reduction||27% reduction in the corn belt – goal exceeded|
|Nitrogen reduction||4.7 million acres under cover crops|
|Sediment reduction||27% reduction in the corn belt – goal exceeded|
|Carbon sequestration||322 384 MT/year more than baseline|
|Reduced soil erosion||48 million/year tonnes of soil prevented from erosion|
If 50% of US wheat, soya and corn cropland were managed with soil health practices, 25 million tonnes of carbon could be sequestered each year!
The Nature Conservancy
TNC is leading a Regenerative Ranching & Agriculture (R2A) strategy across Latin America to drive transformational change in food production while actively restoring natural systems. The project will demonstrate how agriculture can flourish when managed together with preserving the delicate ecological balance essential to our planet’s future. Nestlé is supporting the strategy financially as well as providing critical private sector leadership.
The R2A approach brings together governments, companies and producers to implement science-based practices, methods and policies that drive regenerative agriculture, forest restoration and the protection of environmental resources and services at scale. The results – soil regeneration, native vegetation restoration, increased carbon storage, biodiversity and habitat conservation, and improved watershed protection – will support more resilient and productive agricultural systems.
Recent success includes developing a systems approach for bringing regenerative ranching and agriculture to the Brazilian Cerrado and fostering multi-stakeholder cooperation for regenerative practices in Argentina’s soy and beef sectors. Based on promising evidence on carbon sequestration in soils, TNC is also implementing a regional technical working group to define a consistent framework for measuring, designing, and implementing soil carbon projects in regenerative agriculture areas.
Local Nestlé agricultural experts attended, and contributed to, workshops and the development of workplans in Colombia and Brazil. Each workshop convened over 30 relevant stakeholders from different sectors to identify systems-level interventions. They also generated ideas on agricultural norms, business models and public policy to facilitate the future development of landscapes through sustainable interventions. Based on this insight, TNC created three-year workplans for the landscapes.
Our climate pledge to commit to net zero emissions by 2050 will push us to seek new innovations to offset and inset our emissions through restoration and conservation. A transition to regenerative agriculture will be instrumental in our journey to reduce and capture greenhouse gases associated with annual crop production. It will be achieved through the implementation of practices such as minimum tillage, organic fertilizer use and the planting of hedgerows and green buffers. We are accelerating implementation of such practices at farm level with our suppliers by investing in several pilots across the globe.
Collective action and engagement
We partner throughout our supply chain and with industry-wide coalitions such as the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and One Planet Business for Biodiversity to help conserve high-value ecosystems. Together, we are investing in landscape initiatives to help end deforestation and promote regenerative agriculture systems in high-risk origins.
In September 2020, the CGF announced the launch of a new Forest Positive Coalition of Action. The coalition’s mission is to drive collective, transformative change to remove deforestation, forest conversion and degradation from key commodity supply chains. It is also committed to actively supporting forest positive businesses. As well as being a member of the coalition, Nestlé is the co-lead of its Soy Working Group and contributed to the development of the Soy Roadmap (pdf, 2Mb) published in December 2020.
- Rural Development Framework (pdf, 2Mb)
- Commitment on Child Labour in Agricultural Supply Chains (pdf, 200Kb)
- Corporate Business Principles (pdf, 1Mb)
- Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb)
- Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare (pdf, 1Mb)
- Natural Capital: Water in Agriculture (pdf, 6Mb)
- Natural Capital: Biodiversity (pdf, 4Mb)
- Nestlé Cocoa & Forests Initiative Action Plan (pdf, 860Kb)