SOY, THE SUPERSECRET
PROTEIN

© Ana Paula Rabelo / WWF-UK
© Peter Caton / WWF-UK
© Peter Caton / WWF-UK

Soy is one of the main sources of protein in our global food supply. We may not realize how much of it we consume, however, because most of it is fed to livestock first.

In fact, 75% of the world’s soybean crop is used as animal feed for poultry, pigs, livestock, and farmed fish.

We can also find soy oil in margarine, chocolate, ice cream and baked goods, cosmetics and soaps. Only 5% is used for direct human consumption, in foods like tofu or soy milk. 

GLOBAL SOY CONSUMPTION BY PRODUCT

Source: USDA FAS. Estimated 2020 soybean production is 362 million tonnes (mmt).

The main driver underlying the increase in soy production is the growing global demand for animal protein—especially from the pig and poultry industry.

GLOBAL SOY CONSUMPTION BY USE

Source: USDA FAS, WWF's calculations.

Because of its nutritional profile and efficiency as feed, soy production has more than doubled over the last two decades, but the rise in demand has come at a cost

GLOBAL PRODUCTION BY YEARS

Source: Engage the Chain

GLOBAL PRODUCTION FORECAST

Source: 
OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 

Conversion of forests, savannahs, and grasslands for soy production is endangering wildlife, nature, people, and our climate.

Millions of hectares of critical habitat in the Cerrado, the Atlantic Forest, the Gran Chaco and Chiquitano in South America, and in North America’s Great Plains are being ploughed up for soy fields. Expansion is increasingly encroaching on African savannahs and native grasslands in Central Asia. Agricultural expansion on native vegetation also leads to increased pressure on indigenous peoples and local communities, who may be evicted from the land and lose their livelihoods.

SOYBEAN PRODUCTION

Source: Monfreda et al., 2008

Min Max
Critical habitat endangered by soy production

CRITICAL HABITATS ARE ENDANGERED BY SOY PRODUCTION WORLDWIDE

TOP PRODUCTION REGIONS 2020

Source: Data input from Oil World Monthly, June 2020

Demand will continue to increase in the years to come, so urgent action is needed to protect people and nature. There is already enough cleared, suitable land to triple the soy production area in Brazil’s Cerrado. Solutions exist, but businesses must take a leading role in transforming the industry.

Soy producers, traders, animal product manufacturers, and retailers have an opportunity and a responsibility to produce and source soy more sustainably.

How committed are soy traders to a conversion-free soy industry?

HOW COMMITTED ARE SOY BUYERS TO A RESPONSIBLE SOY INDUSTRY?