‘Link is being made between deforestation and what goes on our dinner plates’

“People want to know the environmental credentials and footprint of what they’re buying.”

Philip Lynch is the soybean meal trader for R&H Hall and is acutely aware of demands from consumers and retailers for sustainable products.

Opening his presentation at this week’s R&H Hall conference, he noted that everyone is aware of the increasing anger and protests, particularly among young people, regarding climate change and the global environment.

The product he trades in is the subject of much scrutiny, but the landscape is changing and moving towards sustainable soybeans.

That move he says is “urgent” because “very worryingly the link is being made between deforestation and what goes on our dinner plates”.

Philip Lynch speaking at the R&H Hall Conference on Thursday, October 24. Image source: Susan Jefferies Photography

His company intends to supply what consumers want. He advised attendees at the conference to “be cynical at your peril” about the demands from the market.

He added that: “If the market requires it, it’s our function to deliver that product. We’ll be in a position to supply.”

Beyond the legal argument

Philip added: “Sustainability requirements go beyond legal in respect to deforestation. Local laws in Brazil, for example, permit a certain amount of deforestation.

However, the market believes sourcing policies must go ‘beyond legal’, in other words a zero deforestation approach is desired.

So what is being done about sustainable soya?

In March 2018, 60 industry representatives came together to form the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya in order to investigate a mass market move to sustainable soya.

Philip noted that, in the UK, companies have been working towards eliminating deforestation associated with soya.

Philip Lynch addressing the large attendance at the R&H Hall conference on Thursday, October 24, in Co. Kildare

In July 2018, eight of the leading retailers published reinforced or new commitments to deforestation and conversion-free soya alongside time-bound implementation plans.

The group is also working together to implement appropriate sourcing policies.

Amsterdam Declaration Partnership

The Amsterdam Declaration Partnership is a cohort of countries including Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK which aim to have deforestation-free, sustainable commodities.

In order to reach this goal the governments have joined forces to influence key processes and aim to use deforestation-free, sustainable commodities, which include: cocoa; palm oil; and soybeans.

Increased demand for soybeans

There is a massive increase in demand for soybeans around the world. The US, Brazil and Argentina are the major producers. Planted area has played a major role in the increased production.

Philip noted that improvements in technology are needed to increase production without increasing land area.

Where did soybean meal imported to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland originate from in 2018?
  • Argentina – 75%;
  • Canada – 9%;
  • Paraguay – 9%;
  • US – 6%;
  • The Netherlands – 1%.