ASC Programme Centre Beta

Feed Standard

farm in field

The UoC sources plant ingredients responsibly


The aquaculture industry consumes a relatively small proportion of the global agriculture output, however, around 75%[166] of the global aquafeed ingredient volume is derived from agriculture. This makes the aquaculture feed industry inseparable from the negative impacts created by agriculture.

A key concern of agriculture is the expansion of farmland through means of deforestation[167] of (tropical and temperate) forests and conversion[168] of other natural ecosystems[169] (e.g. savannahs and grasslands). Amongst others, the UN Sustainable Development Goals address this key concern explicitly through SDG 15 – “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation[170] and halt biodiversity loss”. 

The impacts of deforestation and land conversion are diverse. Forests and other natural ecosystems act as carbon sinks through absorbing and locking-in carbon dioxide. In addition, these ecosystems provide habitat for many species, thereby contributing to conserving biodiversity, contribute to regional climate control and provide humanity with an abundance of natural resources if managed well. 

In late 2016, a diverse coalition came together for a common purpose: to accelerate progress and improve accountability on company commitments to protect forests, natural ecosystems, and human rights. Recognising the need to close the gap between commitments and results, the members of this coalition launched the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi)[171].

ASC certified feed manufacturers contribute to the global effort to reduce deforestation and land conversion by means of a public commitment, followed by a public action plan, to transition towards deforestation and conversion free supply chains. The requirements formulated for this are aligned with the principles of the AFi.

Certified feed manufacturers are encouraged to include, as an additional goal, to work together with the supplier to have the suppliers become deforestation and conversion-free. 

The production of soybeans and oil palm is linked to considerable environmental and social concerns in many of the primary raw material producing countries. As both crops are used for the production of ingredients destined for aquafeed, addressing these concerns is explicitly addressed through this Criterion. The assurance procedure defined in Annex 6 seeks to ensure there is a low risk of soy and palm oil ingredients coming from areas with any land conversion and deforestation. The assurance procedure also gives incentive for producers to work with supply chains to ensure low risk of any land conversion and deforestation for the highest volume plant ingredients used in feed mills, as well as encourages producers to do the same for all other plant ingredients.

5.1.1The UoC shall have made a public commitment[172] to transition to deforestation-free[173] and conversion-free[174] supply chains for the sourcing of all of its plant ingredients (categories 1-3). The public commitment shall include:
– a cut-off date[175] related to deforestation and conversion that is no later than the month of release of the ASC Feed Standard v1.0. 
5.1.2The UoC shall categorise its plant supply chains into the following categories:

  • Category 1: ingredients known to have global risks (i.e. ingredients derived from soy and palm oil), 
  • Category 2: its highest-volume plant ingredients[176],
  • Category 3: Other plant ingredients.
5.1.3The UoC shall assess the risks of legal deforestation and land conversion at the plant raw material production level for all of its plant ingredient supply chains, prioritising 1) ingredients known to have global risks (i.e. ingredients derived from soy and palm oil), and, 2) its highest-volume plant ingredients. 
5.1.4The UoC should also include plant supply chains from category 3) other plant ingredients (5.1.2) in the analysis but the UoC is not obliged to do so to achieve, or maintain, certification.
5.1.5The UoC shall use one of the four pathways 1) Country Score Card, 2) sub-national/sectoral assessment, 3) ingredient manufacturer assessment, or 4) certification (as defined in Annex 6) to determine the level of risk for legal deforestation or conversion.
5.1.6The UoC shall, in all cases where one of the two pathways “sub-national/sectoral assessment” or “ingredient manufacturer assessment” (see 5.1.5) is selected, follow the general process for a risk management framework outlined in figure 4, Annex 7. 
5.1.7The UoC shall have, within 1 year following the initial audit, a public action plan[177] to achieve the commitment for the categories 1) ingredients known to have global risks (i.e. ingredients derived from soy and palm oil) and 2) its highest-volume plant ingredients which includes the following:

  • Timelines and target dates[178]
  • Quantitative and geographically specific[179] targets and milestones that can be objectively assessed.
5.1.8The UoC shall have a system to ensure it only sources plant ingredients from supply chains covered by its public commitment to transition to deforestation and conversion free supply chains (see 5.1.1).[180]
5.1.9For category 1) ingredients known to have global risks (i.e. ingredients derived from soy and palm oil) and category 2) highest-volume plant ingredients, the UoC shall have a system to ensure it only sources plant ingredients for which low risk has been demonstrated or for which an action plan is under implementation to achieve low risk (see 5.1.7). 
5.1.10For category 1) ingredients known to have global risks (i.e. ingredients derived from soy and palm oil), the UoC shall have a system to ensure it only uses plant ingredients as eligible ingredients[181] for which low risk has been demonstrated[182].
5.1.11The UoC shall annually report the progress towards its commitment in a public125 manner. This shall include reporting on performance against the quantitative and geographically specific milestones outlined in the public action plan (see 5.1.7).
5.1.12Using the template provided on the ASC website, the UoC shall annually publish and report to ASC an overview of plant ingredients determined to be low risk and the respective pathways chosen.
5.1.13The UoC shall participate in, at least, one multi-stakeholder platform[183] that advances the transition to conversion free supply chains.