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Waitrose announces European soya move to reduce reliance on South America

1st Nov 2016 / By Alistair Driver

Waitrose is reducing its reliance on South American soya by becoming the first UK retailer to introduce ‘responsibly sourced non-GM soya’ for animal feed from Europe.

waitroseLast month, the retailer brought in its first shipment of soya grown in the Danube Region of Europe, stretching from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, to be used in pig feed used by Dalehead Foods, the retailer’s dedicated pork supplier.

Waitrose said the move marked the start of its plans to move away from its South American soya, ‘responsibly sourced from non-deforested land in Brazil, lowering the risk to its supply chain as demand for it from the developing world increases.

Addressing the Waitrose Farming Partnership at a conference today (November 1), Waitrose managing director Rob Collins described the move as ‘fantastic, innovative and determined thinking’ and the result of three years’ work by Waitrose’s agriculture team.

He said: “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.”

Closer to the UK

Waitrose said the move was part of its work to source livestock feed raw materials closer to the UK. In the ruminant supply chain, suppliers are using clovers and other forage proteins to replace imported soya. With monogastric livestock, soy alternatives such as faba beans are being trialled as a long term soya replacement.

Andrew Saunders, director of agriculture at Dalehead Foods, said: “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.”

Even though the volumes involved are relatively low, the Soil Association described the decision as the ‘biggest blow against GM crops this century’ and ‘the beginning of the end of the last large-scale use of GM crops in the UK’.

NPA view

NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson said: “This is a significant announcement by Waitrose and we applaud the initiative they have taken to source protein from closer to home.

“When it comes to the wider UK and EU meat and livestock supply chains, however, the reality is that alternatives are not yet there on a large scale.

“The EU continues to be heavily reliant on imported protein crops to fulfil its protein requirements. The main one of these is soya from South and North American countries, where GM technology adoption is over 90 per cent.”