Soy sustainability: Japan’s Fuji Oil Holdings in 2021 policy pledge after joining RTRS

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Fuji Oil Holdings joins Round Table on Responsible Soy Association, seeks to establish policy next year  ©Getty Images
Fuji Oil Holdings joins Round Table on Responsible Soy Association, seeks to establish policy next year ©Getty Images

Related tags Soy Sustainability Fuji Oil Japan

Japanese firm Fuji Oil Holdings plans to draw up a sustainable soy sourcing policy by mid-2021, having recently joined the Round Table on Responsible Soy Association (RTRS) earlier in May this year.

Fuji Oil develops and sells vegetable oil, margarine, industrial chocolate, and soy protein, mainly using palm, cacao, and soybeans as raw materials.

The firm has already established sustainable sourcing policies for palm oil and cacao in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

For cacao, it is planning to eradicate child labour from the supply chain by 2030, and plant one million trees in cacao producing regions by 2030.

For palm oil, the firm aims to have 100% traceability to plantation by 2030, it is currently at 52% as of June 2020.

Fuji Oil only recently set up its sustainable soy committee. Last year, the firm was collecting data to formulate its approach.

According to Yoshiharu Okamoto, general manager of corporate communications at Fuji Oil Holdings, the firm’s objectives this year was to establish an outline for the policy on sustainable procurement of soybean.

The firm hopes to roll out this policy next year in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The RTRS was founded in Switzerland in 2006 as a non-profit organisation promoting the growth of production, trade, and use of responsible soy. It counts over 160 global companies as members and Fuji Oil is the first Japanese firm to join RTRS.

Soy and environment

Soybean is a globally traded commodity produced in both temperate and tropical regions, serving as a key source of protein and vegetable oils. Soybean meal is also widely used as animal feed.

In Japan, soy is a basis of many foods such as soy sauce, miso, tofu, and natto.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), soy is the second largest agricultural driver of deforestation worldwide, only behind beef.

In addition to deforestation for farmland cultivation, there are concerns around soil contamination from acid-neutralizing lime, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides use in industrial soybean production.

Soy is also the top genetically modified crop in the world. About 90% of soybeans grown in US is genetically modified to withstand the herbicide (weed killer) glyphosate, so farmers can spray more herbicides without diminishing yield.

According to Okamoto, Fuji Oil mostly sources defatted soy and whole soybeans from US.

Other regions it procures soybean include China and Japan, all of which are non-genetically modified, according to its Sustainability Report 2020.

As part of its Environmental Vision 2030, Fuji Oil is also developing technologies to reduce CO2​ emissions, especially from its soy protein isolate manufacturing.

Hiroshi Shinano, executive officer of Fuji Oil Holdings commented: “As an entity, we conduct environmentally, socially and economically sustainable procurement. This also implies that we focus our efforts on the acquisition sourcing of palm oil, cocoa and soy produced in a sustainable way, in order to fulfill our responsibility as quality food producers​.”

Recently, Mars Inc announced plans to deliver a deforestation-free palm oil supply chain​. Mars sources palm oil from UniFuji, a partnership between United Plantations and Fuji Oil.

Takeshi Shimotaya, executive director at Global Alliance for Sustainable Supply Chain added: “With Fuji Oil Holdings Inc. joining RTRS, many Japanese companies will recognise the importance of sustainable soy in their supply chains and globally​.”

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