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Smucker Deforestation 2014

 
 
WHEREAS: J.M. Smuckers (“Smuckers”) is one of the largest consumer packaged food companies in North America, with a diversified line of brands including Jif, Crisco and Eagle Brand. Palm oil, soya, sugar, and paper are used in a variety of Smuckers products. Global demand for these commodities is fueling deforestation and human rights violations, including child and forced labor and “land grabs” (evicting traditional land holders, through coercion or fraud). 
 
The Consumer Goods Forum, a global industry network to which Smuckers belongs, has recognized that “Deforestation is one of the principal 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).
 
Climate change impacts from deforestation and poor forest management can be reduced through increased use of recycled materials, independent third party certification schemes, and monitoring of supply chains. We commend Smuckers for existing efforts in these areas.
 
Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an initiative backed by 184 financial institutions managing more than $13 trillion, asks global corporations to report how their activities and supply chains contribute to deforestation and how those impacts are being managed.  Smuckers has declined to respond to CDP’s forestry survey. 
 
Smuckers discloses little information on how its purchases of key commodities driving deforestation, e.g., palm oil, soya, paper and sugar, are impacting forests and human rights, or how the company is managing these risks. Meaningful indicators would include: 
 
  • A policy on deforestation, with reference to the key commodities driving deforestation;
  • Percentage of each of these commodity purchases that Smuckers has traced back to its source, and the percentage that are sustainably sourced, with goals for each commodity;
  • Whether Smuckers and its suppliers have adopted a zero tolerance policy on “land grabs”;
  • Results of supplier audits to verify compliance with Smuckers’ forestry goals;
  • Identification of certification systems and programs that Smuckers uses to ensure sustainable sourcing of each of these commodities; and,
  • An assessment of how Smuckers’ purchases impact deforestation and human rights, including rural communities’ land rights.
 
The proponent believes that Smuckers faces potential reputational and operational risks by failing to adequately disclose its approach to managing deforestation and related risks. Smuckers has faced public controversy over what has been deemed “conflict palm oil” by an NGO.
 
Rainforest Action Network claims Smuckers’ products are “at high risk of contamination” with palm oil associated with human rights violations (Rainforest Action Network, “Conflict Palm Oil” 9/12/13).
 
RESOLVED:  Shareholders request the Board to prepare a public report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, by February 2015, describing how Smuckers is assessing the company’s supply chain impact on deforestation and associated human rights issues, and the company’s plans to mitigate these risks.