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Norwegian poultry producer bars Brazilian soy due to deforestation risk

Deforestation for cattle ranching in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay.

Deforestation for cattle ranching in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay.

  • Norwegian poultry producer Gårdsand has developed a new feed recipe that excludes Brazilian soy due to concerns about deforestation risk.
  • According to Rainforest Foundation Norway, Gårdsand reformulated its poultry feed as a response to rising deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.
  • Gårdsand’s move follows a decision last year by Bremnes Seashore, a salmon producer, to exclude Brazilian soy from its fish feed, while the soy suppliers to the Norwegian aquaculture companies Caramuru, Imcopa and CJ Selecta have indicated they will do the same.
  • Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been climbing steadily since the mid-2010s, with the sharpest acceleration occurring since Jair Bolsonaro assumed the presidency in January 2019.

Gårdsand, a Norwegian poultry producer, has developed a new feed recipe that excludes Brazilian soy due to concerns about deforestation risk.

According to Rainforest Foundation Norway, an organization that campaigns on forest issues like deforestation linked to commodity supply chains, Gårdsand reformulated its poultry feed as a response to rising deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Gårdsand has now completely eliminated soy from its supply chain, using other sources of protein.

“We’ve followed the situation in Brazil with increasing concerns over the past years,” said May Iren Varlid Aarvold, Marketing Leader at Gårdsand, in a statement. “Forest fires and deforestation numbers keep escalating at an alarming rate. Knowing that soy production is a driver behind the ongoing deforestation, we find the risk of including this commodity in our supply to be so high that we’ve excluded soy entirely from our supply chain, and shifted to other protein sources.”

Poultry fed with Gårdsand’s new recipe are labelled “produced without soy – for the sake of tropical forests” in Norway’s “Meny” supermarkets under the “Lerstang” brand.

Deforestation for soy plantations and cattle ranches endanger the habitats of Amazon primates and prevent their movement to new locations. Rivers further limit the ability of small primates to move. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Gårdsand’s move follows a decision last year by Bremnes Seashore, a salmon producer, to exclude Brazilian soy from its fish feed, while the soy suppliers to the Norwegian aquaculture companies Caramuru, Imcopa and CJ Selecta have indicated they will do the same. Norway has also been phasing out use of palm oil-based biodiesel due to deforestation concerns, with consumption declining from 317 million liters in 2017 to 118 million liters in 2019 to 2 million liters in 2020.

Rainforest Foundation Norway says that Amaggi, one of the world’s largest soybean producers and exporters, has not committed to a 2020 cut-off date for eliminating deforestation from its supply chain. Amaggi is the main soy supplier for the Norwegian agriculture sector, according to the NGO.

“All the while deforestation numbers continue to rise in Brazil, and the soy industry fails to stop the crisis, the risk of being associated with soy will only increase,” said Ida Breckan Claudi, senior advisor at Rainforest Foundation Norway, in a statement.

“Gårdsand’s new soy-free feed sends a clear message to the soy traders that the traders’ current business model is incompatible with companies’ sustainability ambitions. Unless the industry leaders Cargill, Bunge and Amaggi establish instruments to protect the remains of Brazil’s native forests from soy expansion, they will continue to lose market share, due to the deforestation risk.”

Monthly deforestation alerts data from Brazil’s national space research institute INPE and Imazon since 2010.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been climbing steadily since the mid-2010s, with the sharpest acceleration occurring since Jair Bolsonaro assumed the presidency in January 2019. Deforestation for the 12-months ending July 31, 2020 was 47% higher than two years prior. Soy has the biggest direct impact on the cerrado, a tropical woodland found to the south and east of the Amazon rainforest, though soy production also affects forest cover in the rainforest itself.

Header image: Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo credit: Rhett A. Butler