We are a strong advocate of sustainable agriculture within our industry, with a goal of becoming best in class in this area.
In order for the agricultural sector to grow the safe, quality food needed now and in the future, the natural environment on which agriculture depends must be protected and improved, and the social and economic well-being of growers, their employees and local communities must be supported.
For the natural environment, this begins with conserving freshwater and acting responsibly in water-stressed regions. It also means reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and eliminating the clearing of forests, peat land and other carbon-capturing ecosystems. With growers and local communities, it means supporting livelihoods and respecting labor and land use rights. Managing these aspects will require new levels of traceability.
Bunge issued the first U.S. soybean sustainability certificate for Latin America.
Through our Agribusiness segment, we source oilseeds, soybeans, corn and other grains from major growing regions around the world. Through our Sugar & Bioenergy segment, we produce sugar and ethanol in Brazil, operating directly in plantation fields.
For our global operations, creating a sustainable agricultural value chain requires traceability, forest and freshwater protections, and production that is economically and socially beneficial to our growers and local communities. We are a strong advocate of sustainable agriculture within our industry, with a goal of becoming best in class in this area.
In 2015 and 2016, we have enhanced traceability within key supply chains, with a focus on the sourcing of palm oil and soy. We also have implemented our Global Palm Oil Sourcing Policy (see Palm Oil for more details) and expanded our public reporting.
“The idea of what constitutes a sustainable agricultural value chain is evolving. Bunge is working with others to create systems that incorporate greater transparency and environmental conservation while maintaining the benefits of the efficient commodity markets on which the world relies.” —Stewart Lindsay, Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs
Our main focus in palm and soy sourcing is on eliminating deforestation among suppliers and on partnering with multiple organizations, such as The Forest Trust and The Nature Conservancy, to implement practical solutions with suppliers.
In 2015, we released our Non-Deforestation Policy, pledging to help eliminate deforestation from our agricultural supply chains worldwide, to leverage efforts already in place to respect human and land use rights, and to increase public disclosure of our progress. We expect to issue implementation plans by the end of 2016.
Eliminating deforestation requires crop- and region-specific solutions, and we are working with partners to advance these forest protections going forward.
Bunge has been operating in Brazil, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, for just over 110 years.
In 2015, Bunge was named the most sustainable company in Brazil by EXAME magazine, a leading business publication. We were recognized for our work to prevent deforestation, reduce water use and manage the balance of feeding a growing world while preserving natural resources. Bunge has been named the most sustainable agribusiness company in Brazil for seven consecutive years by the same publication.
Earlier this year, as a founding member, Bunge supported the extension of the Soybean Moratorium in the Amazon Biome, a pledge first established in 2006 among soy producers and exporters, environmental NGOs and the Brazilian government for the adoption of measures to eliminate deforestation in the Amazon region. The moratorium, involving the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries (ABIOVE) and the Brazilian National Association of Grain Exporters (ANEC), obliges its members not to buy soy from areas in the Amazon Biome that were deforested after July 2008. In 2015, we disqualified 22 soybean suppliers for noncompliance with the moratorium, resulting in a total of 69 producers who remain blacklisted. Bunge sources soybeans from some 8,500 farmers in Brazil, and the relatively small number of those found to be noncompliant is an indication of the strong alignment of our soy supply chain with our requirements.
Three out of eight of our sugarcane mills in Brazil are Bonsucro-certified.
We make sugarcane products sustainably in Brazil, with three of our eight sugarcane mills producing Bonsucro®–certified products as demand requires.
Now in our third year of partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), we also continue to help protect habitats and biodiversity in Brazil. Through our partnership, we promote best practices among farmers, contribute to land use plans and have begun work on an innovative, open source tool to help identify the areas most suitable for sustainable agricultural expansion. We are developing this tool in collaboration with other market participants, associations, financial institutions, NGOs, and private and public research agencies. It will be tested by Bunge and other companies in Brazil and beyond.
Read more about Bunge’s promotion of responsible sourcing in Brazil.
New Vision for Agriculture
In 2015, we continued our work as a founding partner of New Vision for Agriculture, whose partner companies are collectively working toward a 20 percent improvement in agricultural food chain performance across 18 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America in each decade leading up to 2050.Increasing Yields in Argentina: A Sustainable Approach
A main goal of sustainable agriculture is to produce higher yields within the same cropping area while respecting the environment. In Argentina, Bunge has conducted essential trials of what we call the Bunge Proposal (Propuesta Bunge), in which productivity increased in the La Pampa region following a balancing of soil nutrients through proper fertilization. On average, a 13 percent increase in yield was achieved.
To enable the transfer of this technology, Bunge has launched Agro Files, a sustainable agriculture tool that provides results of trials performed or sponsored by our company to help growers choose fertilization by region or crop and access research applicable to their planting area. Agro Files is lending valuable support to local sustainable agriculture efforts by making Bunge Argentina’s research available in one convenient format and informing our farmers of our latest research. To learn more about Agro Files, please visit www.bungeargentina.com.
We are also partnering with TNC in Argentina, where Bunge supports a project related to regenerative investment in natural assets in the southeast region of Buenos Aires province. The project goals are to develop and apply an agronomic, financial and commercial approach that allows farmers from the region to generate a normal farm income by sustainably improving the natural assets and ecological functions of their land and the region, as well as by strengthening the social fabric of the rural area.
This year, Bunge’s PRO-S certification program for soy sourcing met the European Union's feed sector’s baseline criteria for responsible soy production. PRO-S was successfully benchmarked against the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) sourcing guidelines using the International Trade Centre’s benchmarking tool, available at standardsmap.org.
Our PRO-S program, updated in 2015 to better reflect current stakeholder requests, market dynamics and internal policies, is based on compliance with a set of 55 mandatory indicators within five main requirements: farmers operate in legal compliance; land use rights and community relations are well defined; farms’ working conditions respect employees’ needs; the sourcing farm is environmentally responsible; and agricultural best practices are in place.First U.S. Soybean Sustainability Certification to Central America
Bunge Latin America received the first U.S. soybean sustainability certification for a shipment of soybean meal to Guatemala. Awarded by the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the certification represented a milestone for the region and introduced a new approach to the local market. Bunge operations in Brazil and Argentina already produce 2BSvs–certified soybeans and soybean oil that supply the European Union biofuel market, in accordance with the EU biofuels directive.
Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world, used by many companies as an alternative to partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that contain trans fatty acids. In growers’ efforts to produce more palm oil for global markets, important ecosystems have been converted to oil palm plantations.
The protection of forests and peat land within the palm oil industry, notably the protection of high-conservation-value (HCV) and high-carbon-stock (HCS) forests, is critical for minimizing GHG emissions, combating climate change, and preserving habitats and biodiversity. While progress is being made in palm traceability and forest and peat protection, achieving full traceability for palm oil in Asia remains an industry-wide challenge.
is an international nonprofit that helps transform commodity supply chains by guiding companies through policy creation, source mapping, action on the ground and verification. Bunge joined TFT in 2015, committing to measurable progress in respecting people and nature in our palm oil, sunflower oil and soy supply chains.
We have mapped and improved the traceability of our palm oil, achieving an average rate of 95 percent traceability to the mill for Europe, North America and South America, and over 70 percent globally. Asia remains a challenge with 41 percent traceability to the mill. An absence of demand for traceable product in the region, as well as the industry’s origination and trading model, present difficulties to increasing traceability. We are working on these challenges directly and with partners.
During 2016, we also improved our governance and data systems and launched a public grievance mechanism.Looking Ahead
We will continue to work with The Forest Trust to close palm traceability and policy gaps in our supply chain and further enhance our public reporting and grievance mechanism. We will also engage in on-the-ground efforts to help drive transformation in the industry.