Heinz Forest Footprint Disclosure 2012
|Company||H. J. Heinz Company|
|Filer||Benedictine Sisters of Virginia|
|Sector||Food and Beverage|
|Resolved Clause Summary||Sustainable forestry report|
|Status||Withdrawn; Company will address|
Heinz is one of the world’s largest consumer products companies and brands with a product portfolio that includes Heinz, OreIda and T.G.I. Fridays. Palm oil, soy, beef, sugar and paper are used in a variety of Heinz products. Global demand for these commodities is fueling deforestation. Several of these commodities have been linked to human rights violations, including child and forced labor.
Forests are rapidly declining at a rate of 55 football fields per minute according to the United Nations. Only about 20% of the world’s original forests remain undisturbed.
The Consumer Goods Forum recognizes that “Deforestation is one of the principle drivers of climate change, accounting for 17% of greenhouse gases today. The consumer goods industry, through its growing use of soya, palm oil, beef, paper and board, creates many of the economic incentives which drive deforestation.” (Consumer Goods Forum press release, 11/29/10)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading international network of climate scientists, has concluded that global warming is “unequivocal.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that greenhouse gases threaten Americans’ health and welfare.
Climate change impacts from deforestation and poor forest management can be reduced through increased use of recycled materials, sourcing of sustainably produced commodities, independent third part certification schemes, and monitoring of supply chains.
Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD), an initiative backed by more than 70 financial institutions with over $7 trillion in assets under management, calls on global corporations to report on how their activities and supply chains contribute to deforestation and how those impacts are being managed. Although Heinz has received requests from FFD seeking disclosure of the company’s management of deforestation risks in its supply chain, to date it has declined to respond.
Heinz’s current sustainability report provides some indictors of how the company is managing deforestation risks through reductions in packaging. We commend Heinz for this effort. However, Heinz does not address the impact on forests of its soy, beef, sugar and palm oil purchases. Several important indicators of how Heinz is managing deforestation risks are lacking. These include:
- A company wide policy on deforestation
- The percentages of purchases of palm oil, beef, soy, sugar and paper that are sustainably sourced, with clear goals for each commodity
- Results of audits to ensure that suppliers are in compliance with Heinz’s forestry goals; and
- Identification of certification systems and programs that the company will use to ensure sustainable sourcing of each of these commodities.
We believe that Heinz faces reputational and operational risks by failing to adequately disclose its approach to managing deforestation risks.
Resolved: Shareholders request the Board prepare a report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, by February 1, 2013, describing how Heinz is assessing the company’s supply chain impact on deforestation and the company’s plans to mitigate these risks.