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Aug 27, 2015

Investors call for better disclosure on water risk management

CalSTRS and Calvert Investment among investors targeting food and beverage sector

Investors representing a combined total of $2.6 trn in assets have called on 15 prominent food and beverage companies, including Tyson Foods, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Kraft Heinz, to improve their water risk management practices and related disclosure.

The campaign, led by investor advocacy group Ceres with support from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, is also targeting Hormel Foods, Dean Foods, Monster Beverage Corporation and others.

‘Many food sector executives are holding onto a mistaken view that water will forever be cheap and limitless,’ Brooke Barton, senior water program director at Ceres, says in a press release announcing the campaign. ‘But the era of cheap, plentiful water is coming to an end and, more than ever, food companies need to address it.’

A letter to the 15 food and beverage companies was signed by investors including the CalSTRS, Calvert Investments, Natixis Asset Management, Walden Asset Management, the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment and others.

In the letter sent to Dean Foods, distributed to the media by Ceres, the investors called on the company to ‘set and implement strong systems to collect and interpret data on the company’s exposure to water risks within both its direct operations and supply chains. We recognize Dean Foods may be developing robust risk assessment strategies, but seek increased transparency about your exposure to water risk, as well as the plans, strategies and progress your are making.’

Ceres also announced the launch of a campaign including Symantec, Levi Strauss, Mars, Autodesk and more than 20 other California-based companies in favor of proposed legislation in the state meant to reduce greenhouse gas emission, lower oil use and boost renewable energy.

The companies signed letters to support state bill SB 32, which sets a climate pollution reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and SB 350, which calls for at least a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency standards in existing buildings in the state as well as a 50 percent cut in petroleum use.