Smithfield leads in environmental, sustainability reporting: study

by Bryan Salvage
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CLAREMONT, CALIF. — Companies leading the way in corporate environmental and sustainability reporting are the Coca-Cola Co., Inbev, Smithfield Foods and PepsiCo, Inc., according to a new report issued by the Roberts Environmental Center of Claremont McKenna College.

Titled "2009 Consumer Food, Food Production, and Beverages Industry Report," this bi-annual study examines Pacific Sustainability Index (P.S.I.) scores evaluating the environmental and social reporting of the largest companies on the Fortune Global 500 and Fortune 500 Consumer Food, Food Production and Beverages sector lists.

"Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and InBev, the world’s biggest beverage [and snack] companies, established the top of the curve for this sector’s P.S.I. grading scale, as they presented the most comprehensive, exemplary sustainability standards," said Jennifer Ward, lead research analyst for the report. "These companies displayed optimistic environmental intentions and supported their visionary statements with innovative involvement in external environmental issues.

Smithfield, Va.-based Smithfield Foods Inc. was the highest non-beverage ranked company with a P.S.I. ranking of 48.97 and an overall grade of "A." Researchers applauded Smithfield for implementing a carbon dioxide emission tracking program in 2007, a move the report indicated is "essential to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the long run." The report also noted other innovative programs for lowering the company’s carbon footprint, including using the biogas produced by anaerobic waste treatment to fuel steam boilers.

"We are certainly pleased to be recognized by The Roberts Environmental Center for our sustainability and environmental programs," Dennis Treacy, vice president environmental and corporate affairs for Smithfield Foods, relayed to MEATPOULTRY.com. "We have been working diligently for many years to continuously improve our programs and are honored that a noted institution like Claremont McKenna College has concurred that we take environmental and social matters seriously, act responsibly and have developed industry leading programs."

While noting more companies than ever before were in the top quarter of the overall range of scores, researchers said several companies still have a lot of work to do. With P.S.I. rankings of 8.8 and overall grades of "D," Land O’Lakes, Inc., Arden Hills, Minn., and Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Pittsburg, Texas, tied for the bottom spot in the report.

The report stated Pilgrim’s Pride still has "much room for improvement in quantitative reporting of sustainability."

"There is no reporting [by Pilgrim’s Pride] of how much waste is produced or recycled, the energy portfolio and use of clean energy, the effect of company operations on the environment, and nothing regarding green purchasing," the report noted.

The P.S.I. uses a general systematic questionnaire to analyze the quality of sustainability reporting. The selection of questions was based on the most frequently-mentioned topics in almost 1,800 corporate sustainability documents analyzed from 2002 through 2008 by the Roberts Environmental Center. Draft sector reports then were made available to companies inviting a review of the analysis.

Making the grade

A+ Coca-Cola Co.

A PepsiCo, Inc.

A InBev

A Smithfield Foods Inc.

A- Groupe Danone

A- Unilever

A- H.J. Heinz Co.

A- Molson Coors Brewing Co.

B+ Tyson Foods, Inc.

B+ Nestle S.A.

B+ Kellogg Co.

B+ Sara Lee Corp.

B General Mills, Inc.

B Campbell Soup Co.

B Dole Food Co.

B Coca-Cola Enterprises

B Bunge

B- Kraft Foods Inc.

C+ Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.

C+ Archer Daniels Midland Co.

C+ Hormel Foods Corp.

C+ Pepsi Bottling

C Heineken

C ConAgra Foods, Inc.

C Dean Foods Co.

C SABMiller

D+ Constellation Brands

D Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.

D Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Source: 2009 Consumer Food, Food Production, and Beverages Industry Report

To view the complete report, visit www.roberts.cmc.edu/PSI/SectorReports.asp.

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