Towards a more sustainable soy cultivation

Soy is indispensable as a protein source in animal feed. But without a responsible approach, the cultivation of this legume crop holds great risks for people and the environment. That’s why we joined the RTRS (Round Table on Responsible Soy) in 2015, a platform that has developed an international standard for responsible soy. To compensate for the use of soy in our meat production chains, we buy RTRS certificates from around 30 soy farmers whom, along with the Trias NGO, we’re helping to farm more sustainably.

We offset 33,100 tonnes of soy per year

In Belgium, we’re experimenting with cultivating local soy. The first trial harvests are intended for human consumption, and in the longer term we’re looking at using it in cattle fodder. In the meantime, our suppliers and mixed feed manufacturers are using soy, which mainly comes from South America. Producers there who meet extra sustainability criteria get certification from the RTRS (Round Table on Responsible Soy), and an independent audit bureau carries out checks.


As a retailer, we buy sustainability certificates from the recognised soy farmers via the RTRS platform. We’ve been doing this since 2016 for every tonne of soy that’s used in our meat processing. The RTRS certified soy doesn’t come directly to us, but we know that our farmers have produced the volume we purchase at a (negotiated) higher price in a more sustainable way. So we support their responsible business methods and offset the ordinary soy that ends up in our production chains.

Since 2016, we’ve bought enough RTRS certificates to cover all the soy used in our production chains. In 2018, that was about 33,100 tonnes.

What are the most important criteria of the RTRS system?

good agricultural practices
limited use of pesticides
conservation of biodiversity
equitable working conditions
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A project with Brazilian farmers

Buying certificates is OK. But for small farmers in South America, it's not easy to produce soy in line with RTRS standards. That’s why we help them, together with the Belgian Trias NGO and the Brazilian organisation Cresol, which provides agricultural cooperatives with financial support. In the state of Goiás in central Brazil, we are funding the training and equipment of four technical advisers, who are guiding about 30 small family farms through the process of RTRS certification. The project is running well and the producers who have joined have already had a positive audit. So we’re already buying all our certificates from them so that they have a stronger position on the international soy market. 

Soy harvest
Together with Trias and Cresol, we guide small soy farmers in South America through the process of RTRS certification.

VIDEO: a strategy for sustainable feed

Leni Tomásia is reaping the fruits of sustainability

Being an RTRS certified producer is a dream come true for soy farmer Leni Tomásia from Goiás. She joined our Trias/Cresol project and, today, is one step ahead of other soy farmers who haven’t yet entered the sustainability process.

Read Leni's story

Family farming works

In the regions with a chain project, we often support a training project as well via Collibri Foundation. In the Brazilian region of Goiás, school children are learning new cultivation techniques and digital skills for further expanding their own farm.

Read more

With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Decent work & economic growth Responsible consumption & production Climate action Life on land