Trillium and Calvert withdraw climate proposal at US food group

Smuckers addresses issues in corporate responsibility report.

US sustainable investment houses Trillium Asset Management and Calvert Investment Management have withdrawn their shareholder proposal calling for food group J.M. Smucker to disclose the climate-related risks of its coffee brands.
The pair said the Orrville, Ohio-based, New York-listed company has taken “positive first steps” with various initiatives outlined in its newly released 2012 Corporate Responsibility Report.
They had wanted the company to report on the climate-related risks to its Folgers coffee brand and to farmers in its supply chain within six months of its 2012 annual meeting. A variation of the proposal was first filed in the spring of 2011, receiving 30% of shareholder votes.
The withdrawal acknowledges new initiatives outlined in Smucker’s 2012 corporate responsibility report. For example, Smucker’s says it now aims for certified coffee to account for 10% of its retail purchases by 2016.
“We believe the company has begun to recognize its responsibility to address the climate change risk to its Folgers coffee and other brands, and accordingly we have withdrawn our proposal,” said Trillium Vice President Jonas Kron. But he added the firm had onlytaken a first step and must do more to address investor concerns through greater disclosure, performance improvements, and accountability mechanisms.

For its part, the company says it has taken a more structured approach to sustainability in recent years. “Our intent has been to develop a more comprehensive view of our Economic, Environmental, and Social impacts to ensure that when we make business decisions we have a clear understanding of the benefits to, and potential impact on, our communities,” say Tim and Richard Smucker, chairman and chief executive respectively, in the report.

“The company has begun to recognize its responsibility”

The fund managers would like Smucker’s to provide further information and more clarity and detail. “Perhaps most importantly, the company must articulate how these initiatives are beneficial, not only to some of the ecosystems and communities in its supply chain, but also how they are linked to the long-term financial prosperity of the company,” they said.
Calvert/Trillium announcement