Q&A Soy

What is soy?

Soy comes from soybeans and is a “complete protein,” meaning it contains all the essential amino acids necessary for the human diet. It is also extremely efficient, generating more protein-per-acre than other major crops. 80 percent of soybeans are processed into feed for livestock and aquaculture. Soy is also used for human consumption – often as an alternative to animal protein – and for oil and biodiesel. The average European eats 61 kilos of soy a year; 93 percent of that is embedded in animal feed that results in our meat, eggs, fish and dairy.

Where does soy come from? Where does it go?

The top three soy producing countries are: the Brazil, US, and Argentina. The largest importers of soy are China and the Netherlands. Most of Dutch imported soy goes to animal feed in Northern and Western Europe.

What are the primary challenges related to responsible soy production?

Responsible soy production means responsible land use. To make the soy chain more sustainable means tackling challenges like deforestation, the conversion of natural habitats into agricultural land, and the loss of biodiversity. Contributing to these challenges is limited global demand for sustainable soy and market instability related to trade wars. See our Sustainability Policy for an overview of the potential adverse impacts of soy production and how Rabobank is addressing them.

Does Rabobank finance everyone in the soy sector?

No, we don’t. Rabobank has clients in the whole value chain, including farmers, traders, manufacturers and retailers – basically, from farm to fork. They all must comply with our Sustainability Policy. If they do not comply, then we will not finance them.

How does Rabobank make sure clients are complying with the Sustainability Policy?

We monitor all of our soy producing clients and give them a sustainability scan (Client Photo). Each year an Agronomic Engineer visits the client and scores them on a scale of A to D, with A-rated clients being the frontrunners. This rating motivates clients to keep optimizing the sustainability of their businesses and products. Low-rated clients must implement an action plan to improve their rating we call these client dialogues. If a D-rated client cannot improve their score within a designated amount of time, Rabobank will terminate the relationship with the client. We report about these dialogues with our clients in our annual report.

What is the sustainability scan/Client Photo?

Rabobank uses its proprietary sustainability scan, the Client Photo, to gain insight into our customers’ sustainability approaches and achievements. The Client Photo scan is integrated into our standard lending process. We measure the sustainability performance of clients with an exposure over EUR 1 million in a Client Photo, scoring them from A-D. The categories range from ‘sustainable leader’(A) to ‘does not adhere to Rabobank’s sustainability policy’ (D-).

How is Rabobank helping to make the soy value chain more sustainable?

Rabobank uses its networks, knowledge and financial solutions to encourage clients and players across the soy value chain to improve. Soy producing clients with high sustainability scores (Client Photo) may receive financial incentives like interest reduction on their loans. In addition to enforcing our Sustainability Policy, Rabobank also forges alliances with diverse stakeholders to improve the sector.

In partnership with the UN, for example, Rabobank unlocks finance for deforestation-free, sustainable agriculture and land use with the $1 billion AGRI3 Fund. WWF Brazil and Rabobank are working together to measure, monitor and incentivize regenerative land use in Brazil’s soy sector. Rabobank is also a member of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) with a seat on the executive board. Considered the “gold standard” in soy certification, RTRS promotes responsible production, processing and trading of soy.