Clean Yield Withdraws Shareholder Proposal at J.M. Smucker Regarding Palm Oil Sourcing Policy

J.M. Smucker produces and markets branded foods, primarily in the U.S. Valued currently at $10.8 billion in market capitalization, the company’s prominent brands include Folgers and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, Smuckers’ jams and jellies, Jif peanut butter, and Crisco.
The updated policy follows the withdrawal of a J.M. Smucker shareholder proposal filed by Clean Yield Asset Management and Green Century Capital Management. Key elements of the company’s policy include a time bound commitment for ensuring that purchased palm oil can be traced back to plantations that are independently verified as meeting the following criteria:

  • No development in high carbon stock forest areas or high conservation value areas
  • No burning to clear land for new planting or re-planting
  • No new development on peat lands, and the application of best management practices for existing plantations on peat lands, including restoration when feasible, and,
  • Including smallholders into the supply chain and respecting land tenure rights, including the rights of indigenous and local communities to give or withhold their free, prior, and informed consent to all new development or operations on lands to which they hold legal, communal, or customary rights.

“Purchasing palm oil from suppliers engaged in the destruction of some of the world’s most biodiverse and carbon rich ecosystems not only threatens the health of our planet, but also puts Smucker’s reputation as a responsible company at risk,“ stated Lucia von Reusner, Shareholder Advocate at Green Century Capital Management, which co-filed the shareholder proposal with Clean Yield Asset Management. “By pledging to secure deforestation-free palm oil, Smucker is not only protecting the environment, but its brand and shareholder value as well. We urge the company to rapidly implement its commitment to help end deforestation for palm oil.”
In recent months, a wave of consumer brands companies have pledged to work directly with their suppliers to ensure that the palm oil in their products is not linked to tropical deforestation or human rights abuses. These commitments come in response to widespread recognition that current RSPO certification standards are insufficient for preventing high risk and controversial environmental and human rights impacts in the palm oil supply chain. The trend began after palm oil suppliers Wilmar and Golden Agri-Resources, which bring the majority of the world’s palm oil to market, announced measures to strengthen their own sourcing policies to go beyond RSPO requirements. Following their lead, companies including Nestle, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate Palmolive and Pepsi have announced strengthened palm oil commitments.

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