Global manufacturers make sustainable palm oil sourcing commitments

A number of global food and beverage manufacturers have made significant commitments to source responsibly produced palm oil.

US giants ConAgra, J.M. Smucker Co., Kellogg, General Mills, Mondelez, Panera and Safeway, which represent some of the top purchasers of the $44 billion palm oil industry, have all committed to source 100 percent fully traceable, responsibly produced palm oil.

The decisions were spearheaded by close to 150 climate-related resolutions filed by institutional investors during the 2014 proxy season, and as a result, a total of 20 major international corporations have committed to set goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or sustainably source palm oil.

Palm oil is a leading driver of global deforestation, which causes nearly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The group of investors include Clean Yield, Domini, Social Investments, Green Century Capital Management, The New York State Comptroller’s Office, Trillium, and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).

“Palm oil is used in so many products we buy, but shoppers can’t see that it’s often harvested in ways that destroy rainforests and lead to climate change,” said New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, whose office was a lead filer of the resolutions with ConAgra and Safeway. “The companies that agreed to our proposal and adopted new policies have protected themselves and their shareholders from the risk of being associated with unsustainable environmental practices.”

“Companies are on the hot seat to reduce their carbon pollution if they want consumer and investor support,” stated Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Capital Management, which secured the first deforestation free commitment from Kellogg’s, and co-lead filed shareholder the shareholder proposals at ConAgra and Smuckers. “We expect more companies to follow suit and build sustainable supply chains and protect the environment upon which their businesses and all of us depend,” stated Samuelrich.

“The successes this season show that when investors set the bar high, the companies in their portfolios strive harder to integrate sustainability into their business practices,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which helped coordinate the filing of the resolutions.  “These productive investor-company dialogues often help companies build a positive reputation and achieve high returns on investments in greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.”


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