Management thought-leader Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

As consumers continue to demand sustainably sourced products, companies will continue to increase their commitments to sustainability. This means the rest of the value chain needs to measure and report the sustainability performance of the raw ingredients in those products – including soy.

“A lot of our customers ask about sustainability,” says Neoh Soon-Bin, director at the Soon Soon Group, an integrated grain, feed, oilseed and oil-processing company based in Malaysia. “And some, like Unilever, have told us that they want to source 100 percent of raw materials from a sustainable source by 2020.”

Through tools such as the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), Life Cycle Analysis and the Field to Market National Indicators Report, the industry can measure and demonstrate the sustainability of U.S. soy. The industry can also use key learnings from these metrics to identify areas for continuous sustainability improvement.

U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol

To demonstrate U.S. soybean farmers’ sustainability, the American Soybean Association, the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the United Soybean Board and numerous state soybean boards, developed the SSAP.

The protocol is a certified, aggregate approach to the sustainability performance of U.S. soybean production. It is based on data collected from U.S. farmers who participate in national conservation programs.

Soybean Life Cycle Analysis

The soy checkoff funds an independent life cycle profile study that measures the sustainability of U.S. soy products. As part of the study, a life cycle impact assessment is completed for four soy-derived feedstocks: methyl soyate, soy lube base stock, soy polyol and soy resin. The life cycle analysis measures the impact of each feedstock on greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental indicators.

Field to Market National Indicators Report

As part of Field to Market, stakeholders from across the agricultural supply chain join together to drive continuous improvement in commodity crop production. That collaboration leads programs like the National Indicators Report, which analyzes the environmental impact of U.S. soybeans and other commodity crops.

As more and more consumers of U.S. soy demand sustainable ingredients, these metrics can provide measurement and transparency. They also provide important information for everyone in the value chain to focus efforts for continuous improvement.