Tyson Aims to Cut Deforestation Risk in Supply Chain


Tyson Foods Inc.

is developing plans to reduce the risk of deforestation in its global supply chain, but an investment group suggests the meatpacking company’s efforts aren’t enough.

Tyson said Thursday it is working to reduce deforestation risk for four sets of commodities—cattle and beef; soy; palm oil; and pulp, paper and packaging—after an analysis found that 6% of the company’s footprint was at risk of being associated with deforestation. A widespread removal of trees can lead to ecological degradation and is believed to play a factor in climate change.

The Springdale, Ark.-based company conducted the analysis with Proforest, a nonprofit consultancy that helps companies implement responsible sourcing initiatives.

“We are asserting our ambition to make protein more sustainable and look forward to working with our supply chain partners, customers and other stakeholders to do our part on this important issue,” Tyson Chief Executive Dean Banks said. The company said it would outline its progress in an annual sustainability report.

Green Century Capital Management Inc., a Boston investment firm that focuses on environmental issues, said Thursday that Tyson’s plans failed to eliminate the company’s exposure to deforestation and its planned timeline to reduce the risks—in some cases up to a decade—were too protracted.

Green Century last year backed a shareholder proposal that sought to push Tyson to strengthen efforts to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain. The firm withdrew the proposal in February, months after Tyson announced plans to address the issue.

“The policy is short on specifics with how it’s going to accomplish certain goals,” said Jessye Waxman, a shareholder advocate for Green Century.

Asked to respond to Green Century’s statement, a Tyson spokeswoman said the company was taking the next year to evaluate the portion of its footprint associated with deforestation risk. “Protecting forest resources aligns with our purpose,” the spokeswoman said.

Food-and-retail companies have sought to identify and mitigate environmental and labor risks throughout their supply chains, especially as investors pay closer attention to how companies manage such issues.

In September,

Mondelez International Inc.

said it had tightened sourcing practices around palm oil, an ingredient used in various foods that has been linked for years to deforestation of tropical forests.

Write to Jack Hagel at jack.hagel@wsj.com and Matt Grossman at matt.grossman@wsj.com

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