Hershey reveals $500m sustainable cocoa strategy

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: The Hershey Company
Picture: The Hershey Company
The Hershey Company is to invest half-a-billion-dollars over the next 12 years as part of a four-pronged sustainable cocoa strategy.

The firm said cocoa sustainability is increasingly important with challenges around poverty, labor practices and deforestation. 

Cocoa For Good addresses issues facing cocoa-growing communities such as poverty, poor nutrition, at-risk youth and vulnerable ecosystems.

The strategy focuses on investments and work in Nourishing Children, Elevating Youth, Prospering Communities and Preserving Ecosystems.

It is expected to impact thousands of farmers in cocoa-growing regions with a focus on West Africa where about 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown.

KPIs to track progress

Jeff King, senior director sustainability, CSR and social innovation, said it has established a defined set of KPIs across four focus areas. 

“We will provide progress against these KPIs yearly on our Cocoa For Good website, along with stories and updates about what we have learned as we execute our Cocoa For Good projects,” ​he told ConfectioneryNews.

“We have been executing a number of programs and initiatives to support cocoa communities for decades, with our most recent programs being our Learn to Grow farmer training program, our CocoaLink mobile phone technology program and transitioning to certified and sustainable cocoa over the past five years.”

The company exceeded 75% certified and sustainable cocoa in 2017 and it will be 100% by 2020.

Susanna Zhu, chief procurement officer, said the firm was committed to its part in the cocoa value chain.

“A sustainable cocoa supply depends on a multi-stakeholder collaborative approach to find solutions to the social, environmental and economic challenges facing cocoa-growing communities,” ​she said.

“Under Cocoa For Good, we continue to work toward a future where there’s a long-term, sustainable cocoa supply, the natural environment is protected, and we are creating better lives for everyone. It’s good for the cocoa farmers, families, communities, chocolate consumers and the success of our business.”

Investment, programs and partnerships

The $500m commitment until 2030 also includes collaborative programs and partnerships.

“The investment covers many areas, including distributing ViVi, our nutritional supplement snack given to school children in cocoa communities; premiums paid to farmers; classes for youth on life skill and financial literacy; and implementing Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems,” ​said King.

“We are still executing our programs working with our suppliers and other partners. Hershey is taking a more active role in defining the programs we want to see implemented based on our values and focus areas.”

Daniel Kablan Duncan, VP of Côte D’Ivoire, said the partnership with Hershey and investment will bring ‘meaningful change’.

“Cocoa is a tremendous part of the livelihoods for the people of Côte D’Ivoire and public-private partnerships are critical to improving the lives of people living in cocoa communities and protecting our precious natural resources.” 

Four point strategy

The strategy prioritizes increased family access to good nutrition and eliminating child labor, a known symptom of poverty and increased youth access to education.

Growing the opportunity and means for women and men to sustain healthy livelihoods in cocoa-growing communities to safeguard their future as well as zero deforestation and increased agroforestry to protect forests and climates.

Owusu Prempeh, from Kwame Adu in the New Edubiase District of Ghana, has been farming cocoa for five years and through initiatives from The Hershey Company, she has received training and support to increase yields year over year.

“The trainings have increased productivity on my farm, especially with the extensive pruning of my cocoa trees,”​ she said.

“I am grateful to Hershey for the premiums they paid to us. We used part of our premium to purchase school uniforms, school bags, books and other school accessories to support school children in the community.”

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