Responsible soya cultivation

Global demand for soya is rising; on the one hand, meat consumption is steadily increasing, particularly in developing and emerging countries, and on the other soya is becoming increasingly important to the human diet. As a consequence, rainforests are being cleared on a vast scale, particularly in Brazil and Paraguay. Furthermore, soya producers are transforming ecologically valuable savannah regions into soya fields, to the detriment of flora and fauna.

To halt this negative development, in 2004 the WWF developed the Basel criteria for responsible soya cultivation, in partnership with Coop. These require:

  • Non-GMO seeds
  • Sparing use of fertilizers and pesticides
  • No destruction of rainforest and areas of high conservation value for soya production
  • Compliance with minimum social standards for workers

Soya in the Coop product range

Coop’s «soya footprint» in the Coop product range

For our own-label brands we generally use soya from Europe for tofu, soya milk and edamame. Wherever possible we give preference to soya from Switzerland.

Coop's «soya footprint» in the Coop product range

Although we are not aware of it, we consume huge quantities of soya in our food. Only a small percentage of soya is consumed directly – as tofu, for instance. Around three-quarters of worldwide soya production is used as animal feed and ends up «embedded» in animal products such as meat, fish or milk on our plates. By calculating our soya footprint, we have worked out how much soya is hidden across our entire food range and how much of that is responsibly cultivated.

Promotion of Swiss organic soya for tofu, etc.

For our organic soya products we give preference to organic soya from Switzerland. We thus invest in short transport routes, GM-free soya farming, and a partnership with Swiss farmers. In order to expand domestic farming and to provide consumers with more high-quality organic soya products grown in Switzerland, we are implementing the «Organic food soya from Switzerland» project together with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL). The entire value chain is included, starting with cultivation, variety testing and seed propagation through to product development.

Reduction of soya in feed

Although we are doing a lot to make soya production more sustainable, soya is still a critical raw material for us. Therefore, we continuously try to reduce our soya consumption. One example is our Natura Beef: The young cattle are reared with their mothers for as long as possible. The Natura Beef cows drink their mothers' milk and eat fresh grass and hay. Soya is explicitly forbidden. Natura Beef accounts for around 60% of the beef we sell.

What we do to promote sustainable soya

Responsibly produced soya
Responsibly produced soya

RTRS: Together for more sustainable soya

We are a founding member of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS). This international network, which was formed in 2006 and comprises NGOs, producers, processing facilities, merchants and retailers, has launched a catalogue of criteria for responsible soya cultivation. In 2010, in cooperation with other organizations we supplemented the RTRS criteria with a voluntary addition on non-GMO soya.

The Swiss Network for Sustainable Soy sets the industry standard

For cost reasons it was not previously possible to market sustainable soy separately in Switzerland. An industry solution was required, and we were actively involved in drafting it. In 2011, together with the WWF and other players, we founded the Soy Network Switzerland. In addition to Swiss feed importers, today the members of this network include all key representatives of animal feed in the production chain.

Thanks to the commitment of the Soy Network Switzerland, today 96 percent (as of 2017) of the soya feeds imported into Switzerland satisfies the Basel criteria, i.e. the documented standards RTRS Non-GM, Pro Terra, Bio Suisse, Europe Soya and Danube Soya. This is globally unique.

GM-free soya from Europe
GM-free soya from Europe

Danube Soya Association: GM-free soya from Europe

The Danube Soya Association promotes the sustainable and GM-free production of soya in the Danube region and has developed a corresponding standard. The region's climate is very well suited to growing high-quality soya. However, there was also considerable interest in producing soya outside the Danube region in line with the Danube Soya Standard. The Danube Soya Association therefore set up the Europe Soya Standard at the end of 2015.

As a member of the association we support this development. We use only GM-free and accordingly certified soya from Europe in feed for our Naturafarm laying hens and chickens. In this way we are making an active contribution towards ensuring that no South American rainforests are cut down to make way for soya monocultures. The proximity to Switzerland also means shorter transport routes.