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What is the Trase Yearbook 2018?

Trase Yearbook 2018 is the first report in the new Trase Yearbook series. It presents the latest insights on the sustainability of global supply chains for agricultural commodities that are associated with tropical deforestation, based on Trase’s unique transparency data.

These data link commodity production and associated risks, including deforestation, to specific trading companies and consumer markets.

The Trase Yearbook is intended to help companies and governments assess and manage deforestation risks and target investments into more sustainable production. It also supports the wider sustainability community in assessing progress made towards zero-deforestation commitments and goals.

Trase Yearbook 2018: spotlight on Brazilian soy

Trase Yearbook 2018 provides a first systematic assessment of:

  • sourcing patterns of major soy-buying companies and countries;
  • the ‘deforestation risk’ associated with the major companies that dominate Brazil’s soy exports;
  • the ‘deforestation risk’ associated with major consumer markets, including the EU and China;
  • the links between deforestation commitments and changes on the ground.

This first Trase Yearbook zooms in on soy production in South America, and particularly the emerging world leader in soy exports, Brazil.

Of all forest-risk commodities, the most traded in international markets is soy – including soybeans, oil and cake. And three South American countries – Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay – together produced almost 50% of the world’s soy in 2016, covering 56 million hectares, an area larger than Spain and a 40-fold increase since 1970.

Expanding soy production is linked to substantial ongoing deforestation and loss of other areas of native vegetation in some of South America’s most iconic biomes: particularly the Brazilian Cerrado and the Gran Chaco in Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia.

Today, soy expansion in the Cerrado is expanding faster than anywhere else in the world – often into areas of species-rich native vegetation and biodiversity. In the Cerrado’s newest soy frontier region, known as Matopiba, at least 37% of the expansion of soy cropland between 2005 and 2016 was into areas of  native vegetation cleared within a year before plantations were established.

Given its global importance as a forest-risk commodity, Brazilian soy was the first commodity covered by Trase’s supply chain transparency mapping.

What is different about the Trase approach to supply chain mapping?

Trase uses a powerful new approach to supply chain mapping and visualization that brings a new level of understanding to complex global supply chains of commodities such as soy, beef and palm oil that drive the majority of tropical deforestation today. Trase provides unique sub-national maps of the supply chains connecting individual regions and jurisdictions of production to specific trading companies and consumer markets worldwide. The jurisdictional focus of Trase makes it possible to discriminate differences in agricultural conditions and sustainability between different sourcing regions whilst also providing complete coverage of the exports from a given country.

Trase uses only publicly accessible data, such as customs records and shipping manifests, tax registration data, and subnational production data.

How does Trase assess deforestation risk in commodity supply chains?

Trase generates indicators of ‘deforestation risk’ using localised data on commodity production, sourcing patterns and deforestation. This indicator, measured in terms of hectares, assesses a company’s – or importer country’s – exposure to the risk that the commodity it is sourcing is associated with deforestation in the region where it was produced.

The total deforestation risk associated with the supply chain of a given buyer is calculated by aggregating the share of commodity-related deforestation in each sourcing region that is proportional to the share of the total soy produced in that region being sourced by that buyer. Therefore, if a company is sourcing 500 tonnes of soy from a Brazilian municipality that produces 1000 tonnes, and where 800 hectares of deforestation can be directly linked to soy production, the soy deforestation risk for that company in that municipality is 400 ha (50% of the total). To allow comparisons between actors that source very different volumes of soy a relative measure of deforestation risk is hectares per tonne of exports.

Trase Yearbook 2018 only calculates deforestation risk directly associated with soy expansion, and includes the clearance of native vegetation in both the Amazon and the Cerrado biomes. Indirect deforestation – for example, for cattle pasture, when existing pasture is converted to soy cropland, or when more than a year elapses between deforestation and planting of the first soy crop on the land – is not yet included.

Ways to explore the Yearbook content

You can see the key findings and highlights of Trase Yearbook 2018  here. The Yearbook is designed either to  be read as a full narrative, from Chapter 1 to 6, or to dip into any of the chapters and findings individually.

  • Chapters 1–3 provide key background information on the growth of globally traded agricultural commodities from the tropics, and the South American soy trade in particular.
  • Chapters 4 and 5 explore the shifting patterns of market dominance among both soy traders and import markets, and assess how differences in sourcing patterns shape levels of deforestation risk facing different buyers.
  • Chapter 6 assesses the status of zero-deforestation commitments in the Brazilian soy trade and examines the exposure of committed and non-committed companies and consumer governments to deforestation risk.  

What will future reports in the Trase Yearbook series look like?

This 2018 Trase Yearbook is a first report with a spotlight on Brazilian soy exports. Future Trase Yearbooks will present annual assessments and updates of the sustainability of different commodity supply chains based on Trase´s unique data.

The coverage of future Yearbooks will increase as the supply chain maps for new commodities and countries are published on the Trase online platform, trase.earth. By 2020, Trase aims to cover 70% of all globally traded forest-risk commodities.

As well as providing a go-to synthesis of key indicators of supply chain sustainability, each Yearbook will report an update on key trends observed during the previous year, as well as more focused analyses on priority regions and commodities. A primary goal will remain the assessment of progress towards zero-deforestation commitments and other sustainability policies, providing an entry point for individual companies and governments to assess trends in risk and performance. To help identify new opportunities for positive change the Yearbook will build from this assessment to highlight both the limitations and successes of efforts by companies and governments to improve the sustainability of the production and trade in forest-risk commodities.

This is the first Trase Yearbook. We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions to help maximise the value that can be gained from Trase data and make future Trase Yearbooks more useful. Please write to us at info@trase.earth.