More than eight years ago, Hershey made an ambitious, important commitment to reaching 100 percent certified and sustainable cocoa by 2020. As we shared in a recent blog, we fully met that commitment by the start of 2020 – and are excited to keep our sustainability momentum going over the decade ahead.
It's a great feeling to achieve a big goal, especially in these globally challenging times. All of us at Hershey are proud to reach this major milestone, and I take personal pride in the role I have played in pushing this work forward during the past few years. At the same time, we know this global challenge can only be addressed with strategies that go beyond any single approach.
That’s why our commitment to sustainable sourcing goes much further than our focus on certification. Hershey’s $500 million Cocoa For Good program raises our ethical and social responsibility to our cocoa-producing communities by addressing issues like child labor, poverty, lack of education, and climate change. And I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact our programs have on farmers, families and their communities.
Our Cocoa For Good strategy uses 100 percent certification as the base for a broader set of investments and changes addressing poverty, malnourishment, environmental health, and income opportunity in rural farming communities in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
We source exclusively from cocoa suppliers certified by organizations such as Fairtrade USA, and Rainforest Alliance. It ensures we’re only working with farmer groups empowered with the resources, administrative systems, and local infrastructures necessary to meet the high standards of certification.
We get to work directly with more professionalized farmer groups that allow farmers to voice their needs and speak up about their challenges from a more powerful, collective negotiating position. This creates more avenues for them to gain access to credit or inputs like fertilizers and crop protections through suppliers and their certifying organizations.
From there, our collaborations with NGOs and others building relationships on the ground in West Africa ensures cocoa farmers receive the tools they need to succeed. Our social investments are driving efforts such as:
I have seen these efforts uplift the incomes of thousands of cocoa farmers in our supplier base as well as their well-being.
Hershey is in a unique position to combine our business focus with our social heart to make a major difference in the lives of rural farmers. And I am proud to be able to lead many of these initiatives happening on the ground in West Africa.
We went all-in with our commitment to sourcing certified and sustainable cocoa because we fully believe that the high standards of certification lead to better, safer farming conditions and environments for rural cocoa workers and their families.
But I also know that high standards are not enough to lift poor farmers out of poverty and sustainability depends on more substantive, systemic changes. We’re happy to be making a major contribution by staying on track with the ambitious sustainability goals of our half-billion-dollar Cocoa For Good initiative.