Soy consumption much higher than we think

A new report commissioned by WWF has found that the average citizen in the EU consumes 61 kilograms of soy per year, the vast majority of which is embedded in meat, dairy, eggs and fish. Soy production harms the environment through deforestation.

57 kilograms – or 93 per cent – of the soy is found embedded in animal feed in animal products consumed by most consumers on a daily basis. The highest amount of embedded soy was found in chicken breast, followed by eggs, salmon steaks, pork chops, ground beef and cheese. The information is presented in an interactive infographic.

While soy is a beneficial, high-protein crop, it can have negative environmental impacts if grown irresponsibly. According to WWF, the explosive growth of soy over the past 50 years has resulted in millions of hectares of forest, grassland and savannah around the world being converted into agricultural land. This is especially the case in South America. Deforestation threatens wildlife and biodiversity and also adversely affects people, the climate, water reserves and soil quality.

“Most European consumers have no idea how much soy is embedded in their favourite meat, dairy, eggs and farmed fish products,” said Sandra Mulder, acting lead for WWF’s soy team. “Even less understood is how this hidden soy has had a devastating impact on some of the worlds’ most valuable ecosystems, such as the Amazon, Cerrado and Gran Chaco.”

WWF is encouraging EU consumers to contact their favourite retailers, fast food companies and brands and ask them to source responsible soy such as that produced under the Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS) scheme. The annual conference on RTRS (RT10) is currently taking place in Brussels.

“It is time consumers start to realize how their consumption can be linked to irresponsible practices,” said Mulder.

In 2014 WWF issued the Soy Report Card, which evaluated 88 European companies on their actions and found that the majority were not doing enough to promote responsible soy production. It plans to update the report card in 2016.


Photo credit: Lima Pix, flickr/Creative Commons

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