Two Norwegian salmon companies eliminate all links to deforestation in their soy supply chains

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/MariusLtu
© GettyImages/MariusLtu

Related tags Soy deforestation Norway

Two Norwegian salmon companies – Bremnes Seashore and Nordlaks - have eliminated all links to deforestation throughout their soy supply chains, according to new market mapping conducted by Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN).

At least seven of the largest companies continue to be associated with Cargill, a company with ties to deforestation, claimed that organization.

“The Norwegian salmon industry is heavily dependent on Brazilian soy in its fish feed and is thus exposed to deforestation risk in its supply chain. Important changes that made it possible to break all ties to deforestation happened earlier this year, when three Brazilian soy suppliers committed to being fully deforestation-free [imposing a ban on trading soy grown on land deforested after August 2020].”

The commitment made by CJ Selecta, Caramuru and Imcopa​ is a bold one, with those soy protein concentrate (SPC) suppliers pledging zero deforestation in their supply chains, said the RFN.

To assess if the Norwegian salmon industry has used the opportunity to become fully deforestation-free, the NGO studied the supply chains of the 10 largest salmon companies.

“Our survey shows that two major salmon producers are now fully deforestation-free and thereby become the first large scale animal protein producers with no links to tropical deforestation.”

Norwegian salmon producers can access four different feed suppliers, of which three produce feed with no links to deforestation. By choosing Cargill as feed supplier, the other salmon producers are actively choosing a value chain with exposure to deforestation risk, alleged the Norwegian organization.

“Although the specific soy volumes that enter Cargill’s salmon feed production have low deforestation risk, Cargill is a company with high deforestation risk.”

rfn survey

Parent company connection 

Summer last year saw salmon producer, Grieg Seafood, exclude Cargill Aqua Nutrition from the proceeds of its NOK 1 billion (US$105m) green bond, demanding that its parent company, Cargill, significantly reduce its soy-related deforestation risk in Brazil.

Kristina Furnes, global communications manager, Grieg Seafood, told FeedNavigator back then: “Deforestation in the Cerrado needs to end due to the climate crisis and also to protect the biodiversity of the vegetation and forests.

“Cargill Brazil is not in our direct supply chain, as Cargill Aqua Nutrition sources the soy product we use – SPC - through CJ Selecta, Imcopa and Caramuru. This is about the ownership connection. It is really important for us to emphasize that this issue here has nothing to do with Cargill Aqua Nutrition, who we consider a good partner and supplier. The issue is the current lack of progress on ground in Brazil to end soy-related deforestation, and Cargill Inc’s connection to that. In addition to our ethical concerns, we are unfortunately in a situation where being a customer of and in a partnership with Cargill Aqua Nutrition is a reputational challenge, due to the ownership connection to Brazil. Consumers, customers, investors and NGOs care about this issue.”

Cargill response to RFN mapping exercise 

A spokesperson for Cargill, commenting today, told this publication that Cargill Aqua Nutrition’s North Sea business purchases soy in salmon feeds that is 100% ProTerra, RTRS or organic certified.

"And we also actively participate in the ‘Aquaculture Dialogue on Sustainable Soy Sourcing from Brazil’ partnership, which drives continued aqua industry progress on sustainability. In addition, our SeaFurther initiative will help salmon farmers to reduce the environmental footprint of their fish by 30% by 2030. By doing so, we’ll help the industry save 2 billion kilograms of CO2​, which is the equivalent of removing more than 400,000 cars from the road in one year."

He sad that Cargill recognizes that it needs to continue to work toward solutions that reach beyond the aquaculture industry to address the broad, complex issue of deforestation.

"We have not wavered in our commitment to end deforestation in our agricultural supply chains and are taking action to make progress toward our commitment. In South America, we are accelerating our efforts to a 100% deforestation- and conversion-free (DCF) direct sourced supply through implementation of our Soy Policy ​in as short a time as possible. To transform the supply chain to be deforestation- and conversion-free, we must assist farmers with a broader set of resources to continually improve their farming practices and the resilience of local communities. The Land Innovation Fund for Sustainable Livelihoods ​– which Cargill launched with a commitment of $30 million – is now actively funding projects that will empower farmers and protect forests across South America."

Industry-wide solutions to the deforestation challenge 

Ida Breckan Claudi, senior advisor, Rainforest Foundation Norway, told FeedNavigator today that while the dynamics behind soy-driven deforestation are complex, it boils down to the fact that it is profitable to convert intact forest to agricultural production because there are actors willing to buy the agricultural products, such as soybeans, grown on the converted land.

“That is why, instead of discussing certain areas or certain supply chains (i.e. certifications), we demand industry-wide solutions to the deforestation problem.

“With such agreements in place, such as the one agreed by CJ Selecta, Caramuru and Imcopa, we would eliminate an important incentive behind deforestation because you simply would not be able to sell the soy grown on land that has been converted after August 2020.

“This is what happened in the Amazon with the soy moratorium: The soy industry traders made a sectoral agreement, and soy-driven deforestation dropped drastically as a result. It was a huge success in [terms of] battling deforestation linked to soy in the Amazon.”

She claimed that there is plenty of evidence that it is the big soy traders that are driving the ongoing deforestation because they buy the majority of the soy produced in Brazil.

“This is well documented through their purchases of soy from indirect suppliers, their presence - infrastructure such as silos in high-risk areas - their support and plans for further infrastructural development to increase soy production, etc.

“As long as traders keep buying soy grown on recently deforested land, they give farmers the incentives to deforest, and that is way a public commitment to stop buying deforestation soy is so crucial for halting the ongoing crisis.”

Soy traders and associated customers may very well work with their suppliers to ensure more sustainable practices, but this must not replace the more important step, which is to commit to the 2020 cut-off date, added the RFN advisor.

Soy Protein Concentrate (SPC) is extracted from soybeans in processing plants in Brazil, then shipped to Norwegian salmon feed production facilities.

The Norwegian salmon industry imports SPC equivalent to about 517,000 tons of soybeans​ each year.

The specific ​soy volumes that are used in Norwegian salmon feed have insignificant deforestation risk due to the ProTerra certification that cover all soy streams to Norway, arising out of the ban on the use of GMO in that country, added the RFN. 

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