We’ve continued to develop our ethical position on animal agriculture over the past year. As a result, we’ve divested from US biofuel and animal byproduct processor Darling Ingredients.
Our ethics analysts constantly assess our investments against the principles of the Australian Ethical Charter. They also develop ethical frameworks to guide our thinking about different sectors. Our ethics team recently developed a new food framework that makes our position on commercial food production and animal agriculture clear. Under this framework, we will only invest in food production companies if they produce healthy food in an environmentally sustainable way that avoids unnecessary harm to animals.
On the face of it, US food producer Darling Ingredients satisfies these criteria. We invested in Darling Ingredients for its production of biofuels, its manufacture of some sustainable food ingredients and its transformation of inedible by-products of the meat industry into usable ingredients (thereby reducing methane emissions by diverting them from landfill).
However, after applying our new food framework to Darling Ingredients we decided this company does not align with the Australian Ethical Charter. While it is not directly involved in animal agriculture, Darling Ingredients supports the sector through its animal feed and food processing businesses. We do not invest in animal agriculture because of the higher emissions and environmental footprint of animal-based nutrition over plant-based nutrition, the animal welfare harms of commercial animal agriculture and the suitability of plant-based diets for the nutritional needs of most people.
We were especially concerned that Darling Ingredients chose to publish misleading information suggesting that meat consumption is not contributing to global warming, including seeking to discredit the 2019 EAT-Lancet report about the warming implications of different diets.
As a result, in June 2020 we sold our $4 million holding in Darling Ingredients. Before we divest from companies, we typically like to engage with management about our concerns. However, in the case of Darling Ingredients their business model depends on supporting the animal agriculture industry. Their willingness to promote misleading information to defend animal agriculture reinforced our conviction to divest for ethical reasons.
We believe the 23 principles of the Australian Ethical Charter have stood the test of the time since our company was established in 1986. Our ethics team works hard to interpret the charter and they constantly develop our ethical approach to ensure every investment we make helps protect people, the planet and animals.