GLOBAL: RTRS chief insists soy scheme can grow

By Dean Best | 25 May 2012

RTRS is "aiming for the mainstream", said Oskam

RTRS is "aiming for the mainstream", said Oskam

The Round Table for Responsible Soy can expand, the president of the sustainable soy scheme has insisted.

Speaking to just-food, Jaap Oskam said the initiative has "momentum" after the first batch of soy certified by the scheme was acquired last year, five years after the round table was founded.

"The start of certification of soya farms started last year but it can go fast. The beginning is difficult, there are a lot of start-up issues to be resolved but the momentum is there and then the demand is created - that's the other part of the coin - I believe it can accelerate," Oskam said the RTRS annual conference in London this week.

The RTRS is a multi-stakeholder initiative set up to try to encourage the sustainable cultivation of the commodity. Signatories include Unilever, Carrefour and campaign groups like the WWF.

However, questions surround the scheme, including claims by some soybean producers that it is too expensive to cultivate RTRS-certified soy.

"There are aspects of the system that have to be improved," Jose Eduardo Jorge Born, president of Argentinian agribusiness Caldanes, said at the RTRS conference on Wednesday (23 May). "However, RTRS is expensive to implement, is little known among players in the industry and there is very little market. RTRS is seen as an expense without a proper and clear return."

Meanwhile, a report issued this week by campaigners at Corporate Europe Observatory claimed the RTRS had "failed to achieve any social or environmental benefits".

Oskam acknowledged the concerns of farmers but said those he had met were keen to sign up to the initiative. He also insisted the initiative had made progress on improving the way farmers cultivated soy.

"The farmers' evaluation tells us that agricultural practice has been improved. They also say it is complex, takes a lot of time, costs a lot of money but they also recognise there are a lot of advantages. They are really eager to make this happen. It is about evaluating what we have pragmatically, step by step," Oskam said.

In his speech to the conference, the RTRS president, who is also chief procurement officer at Dutch agribusiness Nutreco, acknowledged "upscaling" the cultivation of certified soy would be a challenge.

Almost 300,000 tonnes of RTRS-certified soy have been sold since last June. The initiative is targeting 5m tonnes to be sold by 2015.

Oskam said: "The RTRS aims for the mainstream. We aim for the transformation of the current soy business to a more sustainable soy business."

Sectors: Commodities & ingredients, Dairy, Meat & poultry, Sustainability & the environment

Companies: Unilever, Carrefour

View next/previous articles

Currently reading -

GLOBAL: RTRS chief insists soy scheme can grow

There are currently no comments on this article

Be the first to comment on this article

Related research

Carrefour Spain: Consumer Profile

Carrefour Spain: Consumer Profile is the result of Canadean’s extensive online consumer survey Carrefour in Spain, presenting uniquely detailed data on Carrefour’s end-consumers. It provides retailer profiles for both Main and Occasional consumers (d...

Carrefour China: Consumer Profile

This consumer profile is the result of an extensive online consumer survey presenting uniquely detailed data on Carrefour’s end-consumers. It provides retailer profiles for both Main and Occasional consumers (determined by the share of their goods co...

Carrefour in France: Local Profile

This is a detailed report covering Carrefour’ store formats, private labels, history, key employees, and key financial and operational metrics in France....

Related articles

Comment: Communication key for next stage of Sainsbury's CSR push

Sainsbury's is one of the more proactive and open FMCG companies on sustainability and deserve plaudits for its work so far. However, as Dean Best writes, the UK retailer needs to communicate its initiatives more to be seen to be at the forefront of developments on such issues, as consumer interest is growing.

INDONESIA: Carrefour sells stake in local JV

Carrefour has sold its stake in its venture in Indonesia, the latest move to refocus its attention on a smaller number of markets worldwide.

Editor's choice: the highlights on just-food last week

The apparent end of US baker Hostess Brands grabbed the headlines last week after a nationwide strike prompted management to move to wind up the business. On a positive note, UK food manufacturers visited China to try to tap into the country's second-largest economy. Click on the headlines for more on our coverage of the major stories this week.

Read more on this hot issue

The challenge of sustainable soy

This week, industry executives met in London to discuss the progress of the Round Table for Responsible Soy, a scheme set up to encourage the sustainable production of the commodity. What challenges lie ahead?

Welcome to the home of food information, insight & intelligence

Not a member? Join here

Decrease font sizeDecrease font sizeDecrease font size Increase font sizeIncrease font sizeIncrease font size Comment on this article Email this to a friend Print this page