Risks of soy dependency highlighted in policy brief

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A new policy and practice brief from the GFS FSR Programme examines the risks associated with soy dependency in the food industry and shares recommendations on how those in the food system can mitigate exposure to current and future risks.

The brief Resilience of the UK food system regarding demand for soy contrasts the dependency on soy in the UK food system with the risks associated with reliance on this important crop. The UK imports more than 3 million tonnes of soy every year, the majority of which has historically come from just three countries: Brazil, Argentina and the United States.

Soy is a much demanded protein feed source due to its price, availability and nutritional quality. Despite this, deforestation and due diligence legislation, Scope 3 emissions, climate change, and the influence of China’s demand on the global market are among the factors that threaten to interrupt its supply.

Helping industry understand risks

Dr Chris West is Deputy Centre Director for Research at the Stockholm Environment Institute and a researcher on IKnowFood, one of the 13 Projects on the GFS FSR programme. As co-author of the Resilience of the UK food system regarding demand for soy policy and practice brief, he hopes the findings will help food system actors better understand address the risks associated with their reliance on soy.

“Soy is an incredibly important agricultural commodity for the UK, and particularly for its livestock industry,” he said. “Yet, the production of soy is associated with environmental problems, and concerns are rising more generally about security of supply of critical commodities against a backdrop of climate change.

“Within this work we set out to understand the key risks to the soy supply chain from the UK supply chain’s perspective. These concerns form the basis of recommendations that we hope will be useful for industry and policy makers in navigating any reorientation of the soy supply chain that might be needed in response to these risks.”

Collaboration to increase resilience

Dr John Ingram, Coordination Team Leader on the GFS FSR Programme, said: “This policy and practice brief highlights the dependency of the UK livestock sector on soy as a feed source. The fact that more than 75% of soy imports have historically come from only three countries exposes this sector to risk, and this is further exacerbated by stresses and shocks including climate change and changes in trade policy and price volatility.

“The recommendation that industry actors come together to generate a market requirement for better transparency in the soy supply chain is a good example of how food system actors can help to enhance resilience through collaboration, leaving the UK food system less vulnerable to shocks and stresses.”

On 2 December 2021 at 11.00, Dr Chris West will present key points and recommendations from the brief. Register here for the webinar.

The policy and practice brief is part of a series published by the GFS FSR programme.

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