Pioneering in locally grown soya
A farmer harvesting his crop; this is not such a strange sight in the months of September and October. However, this harvest period is a little bit more interesting for farmer Simon Colembie. This will be his first one-hectare organic soya harvest, right here in Belgium. Together with him and food producer La Vie Est Belle, we are pioneering locally grown soya. This will really benefit our product range, because this way we can continue to make it a lot more sustainable.
Three local players
From field to supermarket - farmer Colembie's organic soya doesn't need to travel far. After being harvested in Kruishoutem, more than 2,5 tons of soya beans are transported to La Vie Est Belle, a producer of vegetarian products in Bruges. Here, the beans are used to produce two different soya burgers and two soya spreads. La Vie Est Belle has been a supplier of Bio-Planet for many years. As a result, the four new products will be on the shelves of our organic supermarket next year.
The challenges of Belgian soya
Until now, soya has mainly been an import product, and that is why the research institutes ILVO (Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research) and INAGRO (Research and Advice in Agriculture and Horticulture) have for some years been investigating the potential of growing soya in Belgium. Together with these institutes and our other partners, we are pioneering this specific project. We are still researching and discovering what works. What soya varieties will grow best over here? When should we be planting? When should we be harvesting? It is a learning process, but we have full confidence in the work we do together with our partners. The farmer can count on a fair return on his investment.
A more sustainable product range
This organic soya, grown, processed and soon sold by local companies, is unique in Belgium. It means increased sustainability in various areas:
- Because the crop is grown locally, there is less need for soya from North and South America. This means less transportation and therefore a more sustainable product.
- In Belgium, agricultural land often suffers from soil impoverishment because the same crops are grown time and time again. Soya extracts nitrogen from the air and therefore enriches the soil. As a result, the soil needs less fertiliser and farmers have an extra crop to rotate on their fields.
- The main advantage of soya is that it is a nutritious crop. Thanks to its good protein composition and digestibility, soya is the number one vegetable protein source. It is ideally suited for use in tasty meat substitutes, such as soya burgers and spreads, which will be on the shelves at Bio-Planet next year.
As a retailer, we fully support "home grown soya", because this enables us to make our product range even more sustainable. This is something that we are truly committed to. At the same time, it is a great opportunity for our customers to make a conscious choice and opt for sustainable, locally produced food.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.