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August 16, 2011
Shareowners Pressure Smucker's on Climate Change
    by Robert Kropp

Noting insufficient attention to the impact of climate change in the company's sustainability report, Calvert Investments and Trillium Asset Management call for a report on social and environmental risks to its coffee business.


Climate change will be one of the issues to be debated at tomorrow's Annual General Meeting of the Smucker's food conglomerate. The company, which derives 40% of its revenue from its Folger's coffee business, has on its proxy ballot a shareowner resolution submitted by Calvert Investments and Trillium Asset Management, which, according to a press release, calls for "detailed disclosure by the company about climate-related risks to the Folgers Coffee and other brands."

The resolution, which was filed in March, predated the publication of company's 38-page 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report. The report, according to the press release, "contained only one page devoted to coffee and none to climate change."

"Climate change may present a number of important risks and opportunities for our company," the resolution states, "as it impacts temperature, rainfall patterns, and disease vectors in the world’s coffee growing regions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, physical risks from climate change may include changes and variability in precipitation and in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events."

The shareowners requested Smucker's Board of Directors report on "how the company will manage the social and environmental risks and opportunities connected to the company's coffee business and supply chain."

Arguing that "the Company has published a corporate responsibility report that includes, among other matters, a discussion of how the Company will manage the social and environmental risks and opportunities associated with the Company's coffee business and supply chain," Smucker's Board recommended a vote against the proposal.

Jonas Kron, Trillium's Deputy Director of ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) Research and Advocacy, stated, "We are concerned about maintaining the financial success of Smucker's coffee business in the face of climate change and addressing the social and environmental impacts of its supply chain."

Rebecca Henson of Calvert stated, "Now is the time for Smucker's to step up to its financial and ethical responsibilities through full disclosure of climate change risks and its commitments to supporting a more sustainable coffee supply chain that meets the needs of all stakeholders."

 

 
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