The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board has issued provisional standards for seven industries in the consumption area, including agricultural products; meat, poultry and dairy; processed foods; non-alcoholic beverages; alcoholic beverages; tobacco; and household and personal products.

SASB is a nonprofit organization that provides sustainability accounting standards for use by publicly listed corporations in the U.S. While it has no officially sanctioned role in setting accounting standards, SASB standards aim to help companies manage and disclose the sustainability issues that are likely to have a material impact on them.

Examples of some of the disclosure topics include food safety, labeling and marketing integrity, climate change adaptation, and supply chain management. The standards average six topics per industry, and 71 percent of metrics are quantitative.  

“As consumption industries produce many basic necessities, there's an inherent tension between the resource-intensity of their operations and the need to produce food, beverages, and household products for a growing population,” said SASB CEO Dr. Jean Rogers in a statement. "SASB standards help companies in these industries manage issues including water scarcity, packaging, and climate impacts such as crop yield and commodity prices."  

Due to a large number of industries, SASB has divided the Consumption sector into two parts, Consumption I (industries focused on staples manufacturing) and Consumption II (consumer goods and retailing). The Consumption II standards will be issued in September 2015. 

The working groups for Consumption I industries, which included 271 registrants, represented publicly traded companies with $1.5 trillion in market capitalization and investment firms with $8.1 trillion in assets under management.

“SASB’s efforts to define, develop and propagate sustainability accounting standards is a key step in enabling corporations to disclose material, decision-useful information to investors,” said Todd Camp, senior director for corporate social responsibility at Hershey. “The process is rigorous and founded on evidence-based research and broad, balanced stakeholder participation, which is critical to facilitating an understanding of the relevancy between disclosing non-financial metrics and overall business strategy and performance.”

SASB standards remain provisional for at least one year after the issuance date. To provide feedback, visit SASB's public comment portal.

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