Six of the world’s leading food and agribusiness companies have developed a new method to disclose deforestation-free soya purchases from Brazil’s Cerrado region, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) announced.

The six companies – Archers Daniels Midland (ADM); Bunge; Cargill; COFCO International; Louis Dreyfus Company and Viterra – are all members of WBCSD’s Soft Commodities Forum (SCF).

With about 30% of global production, Brazil is the world’s leading exporter of soyabeans, according to the 21 June report, with about half of that total concentrated in the Cerrado region.

Key traceability data from the six companies was published in the SCF’s seventh bi-annual report, which details progress made since last December on land use monitoring, stakeholder engagement and landscape transformation initiatives, the WBCSD said.

In the report, the companies disclosed deforestation-free soyabean purchases sourced directly and indirectly from 61 municipalities in the region, which represents 70% of the area at-risk for deforestation associated with soyabeans.

In addition to individual company data, the SCF’s June report also includes a process to track deforestation-free soyabeans in the 61 Cerrado municipalities.

While it was easy for SCF members to trace soyabeans purchased directly from soyabean farms, tracing sales from indirect sources (which represent about 22% of their collective soyabean purchases) was more complex, the WBCSD said.

To address that challenge, SCF members had developed a collective protocol to monitor and trace soyabeans from indirect suppliers, the association said.

Developed with the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries (ABIOVE), the new SCF protocol for indirect suppliers is a sectoral approach to help equip intermediary soyabean resellers with adequate traceability systems.

The joint SCF/ABIOVE initiative was designed to send a strong market signal to producers that SCF members were seeking to do business with suppliers that are in line with SCF objectives and had the ability to trace their own sourcing to guarantee it is deforestation-free, the WBCSD said.

“Traceability is the baseline for credibly meeting targets in line with a 1.5-degree climate pathway,” WBCSD’s executive vice president Diane Holdorf said. “The progress made by the Soft Commodities Forum to advance its nature-positive agenda is critical to help achieve a resilient, equitable food system. Their work moving forward to accelerate and scale action on the ground with farmers demonstrates the momentum needed.”

In addition, the SCF had established a three-year strategy – the Farmer First Clusters Initiative – to preserve priority Cerrado landscapes, the association said. The strategy proposes financial incentives to encourage farmers to preserve forests, adopt sustainable land use practices and to protect the ecosystem.

The SCF announced its planned interventions in the Brazilian states of Western Mato Grosso, Southern Maranhão, Western Bahia, and Tocantins, due to take place later this year, in the June report.