Responsible Commodities Facility (RCF)

Waitrose has contributed $1m to an innovative scheme to support responsible soy farming and protect forests in the Brazilian Cerrado.


Growing demand for soy throughout the world continues to result in deforestation and associated negative impacts including greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, and destruction of natural habitats. However, it is recognised that expansion of agricultural production can take place without the need for further clearing of natural vegetation, but for this to happen, incentives for farmers are required. 

To help achieve this, Waitrose, in collaboration with Tesco and Sainsbury’s, is supporting and funding the establishment of an innovative new initiative called the Responsible Commodities Facility (RCF) and its inaugural fund, designed to promote the production and trade of deforestation and conversion-free soy in the Brazilian Cerrado region – one of the world’s most biodiverse and at-risk savannah ecosystems. 

Launched in August 2022, and in a first of its kind approach, the RCF provides financial incentives for farmers in the Cerrado, through low-interest loans, to fund the purchase of agricultural inputs, for example, fertiliser and seeds, for the soy planting season. To be eligible for the RCF Programme, farmers must meet certain criteria focused on the protection of native vegetation in addition to legal requirements, with the results monitored by satellite. 

The initiative has been designed to demonstrate the ability to produce soy whilst helping to protect vast tracts of native vegetation and promote zero-deforestation supply chains. After a year, it’s planned that the RCF will be scaled up to include hundreds of farms across Brazil, and hopefully many more thereafter.

Over the four year Programme, it’s expected that 300,000 tonnes of deforestation and conversion-free soy will be produced, and 11,000 ha of native vegetation will be conserved, including 4200 ha of Excess Legal Reserves that could, otherwise, be legally deforested. This will result in 2 million tonnes of CO2e being stored in the natural habitat maintained by the Programme.


An Environmental Committee, with participants including NGOs such as WWF, The Nature Conservancy, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), have been instrumental in creating and supporting the fund. They will also sit on the RCF’s Environment Committee overseeing the fund that will monitor the compliance of the Programme, as well as reviewing progress and providing input into the environmental management of the facility.


The potential to scale up the RCF’s model means that it could one day help to protect large areas of the Cerrado in a way that is financially sustainable in the long-term.

By supporting the RCF, Waitrose hopes to pioneer this new model of conservation alongside agricultural production. The market for green finance is significant, and by establishing and demonstrating the success of the RCF’s financing model for both investors and for nature, we hope to inspire others to lend their support and to direct a much larger flow of green investment towards supporting sustainable agriculture, which rewards responsible farmers.


Waitrose has contributed $1 million to the initiative, consisting of a $55,000 grant to help set up the programme and a further $945,000 investment in the fund. This will directly support conservation of around 1,000 ha of native vegetation and the production of 27,000 ha of deforestation and conversion-free soy. Overall, this will mean that over 180,000 tonnes of CO2e will remain stored in the Cerrado’s native plants and soils.

Waitrose has been working with and supporting Sustainable Investment Management, the creators of the RCF Initiative, for over a year to help develop, promote and launch the first pilot fund. We will continue this support as the initiative is rolled out and monitored. 

"We're delighted to be one of the leading investors supporting this inaugural fund and applaud Tesco and Sainsbury's for their leadership on this also. Waitrose is committed to doing our part to protect and restore nature, and we have set a bold commitment to source all our key raw materials responsibly by 2025, including deforestation and conversion-free soy. The scale of the challenge to halt the loss of biodiverse ecosystems like the Brazilian Cerrado requires innovative new approaches. We hope this pilot fund will demonstrate the huge opportunity for green finance to incentivise responsible farming practices that ensure we protect our global forests. Achieving this potential, however, will require broader uptake, and I'd therefore appeal to fellow food sector businesses and to financial investors to join us in supporting and investing in this extremely important initiative to help protect the Cerrado, before it's too late."

James Bailey, Executive Director, Waitrose


Waitrose is a signatory of the Cerrado Manifesto and member of the Cerrado SOS group of businesses; initiatives which bring together major retailers, consumer goods manufactures, and primary production groups to commit to tackle deforestation from soy production in the Cerrado. The concept of the RCF was initially developed through the work of these groups, and our support for it demonstrates our ongoing commitment to their joint objective.

The RCF and Cerrado initiatives form a part of our wider responsible sourcing commitments to support positive action in the landscapes and communities we source from. Waitrose’s full soy footprint is certified sustainable or organic in our own-brand products, and as a member company signed up to UK Soy Manifesto, have committed to a further collective target of sourcing 100% deforestation and conversion-free soy by 2025. Waitrose are also active members and supporters of industry groups to help drive collective action, including the Roundtable on responsible Soy (RTRS), the Retail Soy Group, as well as being a founding member of the Soy Transparency Coalition. 

For more information on our soy sourcing progress, please see our 2021/22 Ethics & Sustainability Report and dedicated raw materials sourcing page.