Sustainable supply of soy needed

The manager of a major global soy firm has spoken of the importance of building a sustainable chain of certified soybean to match supply and demand.

Roel Baakman, group manager of sustainability and nutrition at global soy chain specialist Cefetra, told delegates at the ProTerra Conference that demand for sustainable soybean meal in north-west Europe was growing, and the challenge lay in sourcing enough to meet this demand.

He warned that, in order to boost supply, farmers needed assurance that there was a market for their product. He argued that once a critical mass of certified soy had been attained, the supply chain would be able to balance with demand and the two could grow at the same rate. Although there is less demand from global markets, such as China, at the moment, Baakman said this would change over time.

Baakman pointed out that there were many certification schemes, but that it took a long time to build sustainable chains and it was important to focus on mainstream ways to boost supply as fast as possible. He argued that realistic entry levels of some of the certification schemes were important to include farmers and raise the levels, rather than exclude them from the outset. He also said it was important that the feed industry worked with the biofuel industry to ensure that all the available meal could be utilised.

He said the most important thing was to raise the level of sustainability at farm level and outlined a three-stage model which could be used to boost the supply of certified 'sustainable' soybean meal and create critical mass, whereby it would be possible to completely separate certified non-GM with 'conventional' soya.