The supermarket has today (12 October) announced that it will purchase Roundtable for Responsible Soy (RTRS) credits for its entire soy footprint with immediate effect.

The credits ensure that farmers receive a premium for using sustainable production methods, with the move making Lidl the largest corporate buyer of RTRS credits in the UK.

“We want to create sustainable supply chains that protect the environment while also delivering high-quality products at an unbeatable value, and, as a major food retailer, we recognise the need to accelerate progress towards a secure, resilient supply of sustainable soy,” Lidl UK’s responsible sourcing manager Amali Bunter said.

“Through the UK Roundtable for Sustainable Soy, we look forward to working collaboratively with industry to ensure that this is achieved.”

The announcement was welcomed by Energy Minister Claire Perry, who said that the move served as evidence that Lidl was “seizing the opportunities” created by the Clean Growth Strategy.

Cerrado manifesto

The move from Lidl comes after the retailer signed the Cerrado Manifesto, which calls for zero-deforestation in Brazil’s Cerrado region, where around 50% of the natural landscape is believed to have been lost since 2000. 

Along with corporate buyers such as Unilever, Tesco and Marks and Spencer (M&S) and investors including Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM), APG and Robeco, Lidl has committed to help halt forest and native vegetation loss in the region. 

The chain is currently implementing a new “direct trade, book and claim” approach across its soy supply chain, which will enable it to invest its premiums in Brazilian farms that use industry-led environmental and social standards of production.

Sustainable sourcing

With the world’s population widely expected to grow to more than nine billion people by 2050, Lidl is just one of many businesses exploring ways to meet growing demands for food while minimising negative impacts on forests.

Tesco recently pledged to ensure that the soy it sources for its own-brand products and animal feed is verified as “zero deforestation” by 2025, for example, while soy giant Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) has embedded the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its updated raw materials strategy in a bid to tackle forest loss.

Elsewhere, Unilever this year struck a deal with a government-owned palm oil plantation firm in Indonesia to create a support framework that enables local mills and smallholders to produce palm oil according to zero-deforestation and zero-peatland-deterioration standards. 

Sarah George

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