Andrea Ranger, Shareholder Advocate, firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-349-2813
Pam Podger, Communications Director, email@example.com, 802-299-9495
Boston, August 21, 2023 – After Green Century° and Trinity Health filed a shareholder proposal with Hormel Foods Corp. (Hormel) in 2019, the company has made progress on an important public health issue: reducing the overuse of medically-important antibiotics in food animals. Prior to Green Century’s engagement, Hormel had not disclosed how its animals were being dosed with antibiotics on its company-owned turkey and pork farms and on farms it contracted with for those animals.
Medically-important antibiotics are medications that people use to fight bacterial infections on a range of illnesses. The rise of antibiotic superbugs in recent years has put a spotlight on how routinely overprescribing powerful antibiotics in food animals poses a health threat. In fact, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that superbugs infect more than 2 million Americans and kill at least 23,000 each year.
In exchange for a withdrawal of the 2019 shareholder proposal, Hormel agreed to publish the amounts of medically-important antibiotics routinely administered in the food and water supplies of turkey and pork raised on company-owned farms and in contract turkey farms. To its credit, Hormel voluntarily began reporting on antibiotics used on three pork farms in its supply chain.
Surprisingly, Hormel then made the bold move of setting targets to eliminate routine use of medically-important antibiotics announcing on its website, “We will strive to achieve a 10% year-over-year reduction in medically important antibiotic use at our company-owned turkey farms and company-owned sow farm…” Hormel noted that, until 2025, it will study how to make antibiotic reductions in its pork supply and then will start doing so.
“We are glad to see Hormel taking these strong steps to protect public health,” said Green Century Funds President Leslie Samuelrich, “Having just experienced the stunning impacts of a global health crisis, we can’t afford to misuse medications that are key to saving lives.”
Hormel has now published its second antibiotics stewardship report which demonstrates progress toward its 10% year-over-year reductions in medically-important antibiotics. For turkeys, it succeeded in an 8% reduction in 2022; however, the company needs to invest greater efforts to adopt better stewardship practices within its own sow farm and those of its pork suppliers. Rather than cutting antibiotic use in pork, it has continued to increase doses of important classes of antibiotics.
“What I’m seeing from this multi-year engagement is the power of shareholder advocacy to affect change,” stated Green Century Shareholder Advocate Andrea Ranger. “Hormel is really scrutinizing the practices used on its farms and partner farms, and it’s now figuring out how to proactively treat illnesses without reaching for medically-important antibiotics. It’s a win for people, a win for Hormel, and a win for keeping antibiotics effective.”
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°Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are one of the first families of fossil fuel-free, environmentally responsible mutual funds. Green Century hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.
*As of June 30, 2023, Hormel Foods Corporation comprised 0.00%, 0.06%, and 0.00% of Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century International Index Fund respectively. As of the same date, other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of any of the Green Century Funds. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
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The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 235 W Galena Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. 8/23