// M&S commits to removing soya from all animal feed in milk supply chain
// It has replaced soya with rapeseed oil and sugar beet
// The production of soya for animal feed has been linked to deforestation, especially in the Amazon
Marks & Spencer has announced a more sustainable feed scheme in its milk supply chain as part of its pledge to tackle deforestation.
From tomorrow, M&S Food said it would have completely eliminated soya feed from the production of all its milk, replacing it with alternatives such as rapeseed oil and sugar beet, which are as nutritious and healthy as soya.
The production of soya has been linked to deforestation – especially in the Amazon rainforest – whereby swathes of trees are burned and cleared to make way for growing soya for animal feed.
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M&S said it has worked with the 44 British farmers producing its RSPCA Assured milk to avoid nearly 4000 tonnes of soya being used each year.
The retailer said the move marks an important milestone as part of its goal to ensure zero deforestation from the production of its food products.
It added that it would continue to explore solutions for more sustainable animal feed across its wider supply chain, and said its zero deforestation pledge would also cover other ingredients like palm oil, wood and paper and textiles made from wood pulp.
“Soya is widely used in animal feed across the industry because it’s fast-growing and protein-rich, but we’re all aware of the devastating impact its use is having on Brazilian forests,” M&S Food technology director Paul Willgoss said.
“Our absolute priority as a business is to eliminate deforestation from the production of our products and to get there, we’re looking at both reducing our reliance on soya and finding more responsible ways of sourcing it.
“We’re incredibly proud of the team’s hard work to move 100 per cent of the animal feed in our milk supply chain to high-performing soya alternatives.
“This marks a critical step in our journey as we continue working to play our part in ending deforestation.”
M&S also aims to ensure 100 per cent of the soya used for its products would now be sourced through approved or recognised sustainable soya schemes, such as the Round Table for Responsible Soy and Proterra, by the end of 2020.
Wildlife charity WWF welcomed the announcement.
“We’ve become overly dependent on protein-rich soy to feed our food – at huge cost to nature in precious places like the Brazilian Amazon and neighbouring Cerrado,” WWF head of food commodities Dr Emma Keller said.
“It matters that M&S is stepping up its commitment, because if we transform the way we produce food and change what we choose to eat we can turn things around for the health of our planet.
“We want to see food companies make the soy they use more sustainable but also to diversify and reduce dependence on single commodities.”