Hershey Develops New Socially Responsible Plan For Cocoa Growers

The Hershey Company has announced the launch of a roadmap for how the company will work to help cocoa communities around the world grow sustainable cocoa for the next century. With the 21St Century Cocoa Plan, Hershey will combine its responsible sourcing practices to expand the supply of sustainable cocoa while investing in community programs that improve education and the livelihoods of cocoa-growing families around the world.

“Cocoa is at the heart of our business and we care deeply that this key ingredient is grown in a safe, healthy and sustainable manner,” said John P. Bilbrey, Hershey's president and CEO. “Through our Hershey 21St Century Cocoa Plan, we are taking meaningful and measurable steps and making a positive difference in the health and well-being of cocoa communities. This is a watershed moment for our industry to work together with cocoa growing nations to increase opportunities for farmers through better training, financing and community development. The complexity of the challenges requires us to work together with a focused plan.”

A cornerstone of the plan is the company’s commitment to source 100 percent third-party certified cocoa for all of its chocolate products worldwide by 2020. Certified cocoa is verified by independent auditors who assess against established standards for labor, environmental and sustainable farming practices.

With about five percent of the world’s cocoa supply certified at the end of 2012 and the need for certified cocoa growing, Hershey believes its 2020 commitment, which was announced last October, is already helping expand the global supply of certified cocoa. At the time activists concerned with child labor, which is purported to be widespread in West African plantations, welcomed the decision.

Hershey said as its buying volume increases, it will be working with other well-established certification organizations to expand their capacity to certify more cocoa farmers globally. The company has already committed to source cocoa through three of the world’s most recognized cocoa certifying organizations, including UTZ, Fairtrade USA and Rainforest Alliance.

Image credit: The Hershey Company