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Hershey Continues to Scale Cocoa Sustainability Efforts

Chris Abbott
Senior Director Cocoa Strategic Sourcing
  • 100% Visibility of High-Risk Cocoa Supply Chain by 2025
  • Expansion of Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System across entire direct cocoa supply
  • Achieved 100% certified and sustainable cocoa in January
  • 100% Satellite Mapping of West African supply chain

At Hershey, we are driven by our purpose of making more moments of goodness, whether that’s eating S’mores over the campfire or sharing Hershey’s Kisses with a friend. It’s a passion we’ve had for more than 125 years, and we want everyone who enjoys our great-tasting chocolate to feel good about those special moments.

It’s our job to ensure that we use only the best ingredients in our products and that those ingredients are sourced ethically and sustainably. At the top of that list is cocoa and how we use the principles of fair and ethical trade in our practices.

That’s why we are proud to announce that we’re committing to increase our Cocoa For Good direct sourcing program to 100% coverage of our high-risk areas of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana by 2025. This significantly increases our direct investment in those areas and will give us clear line of sight into where all of our cocoa was grown and how it was produced – a level of transparency we’ve never had before. We will provide more holistic intervention support to farmers, and scale-up programs to help end instances of child labor.

We are also expanding our Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems, to cover 100% of our high risk sourcing in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. This means we will be assessing more than 125,000 children, a 350% increase. CLMRS is the leading child labor monitoring and remediation system that leverages both supply chain personnel and community members to identify potential cases of child labor. Once identified, these cases are remediated often through simple education to the farmer on what work is acceptable for children to do as part of the farming family. Other times, we need to provide assistance to the farmer, such as providing a birth certificate so their child can stay in school.

Hershey is fully committed to ending instances of child labor within our supply chain. We’re working with farmers to educate them on what is acceptable child work and what is considered child labor. It is important to understand the distinction between the two as defined by the ILO, as we know appropriate child work occurs on family farms all over the world – as long as they are attending school and doing work that is appropriate for their age.

We’re pleased that this CLMRS work to date has found zero instances of forced labor. But know there is more work to do to have zero instances of all forms of child labor – which is our ultimate goal.

We believe our focused efforts to improve our Hershey cocoa ecosystem are important and we are pleased to also announce that we have achieved our commitment to only source 100% certified and sustainable cocoa by 2020, a milestone we successfully hit earlier this year in January.

  • Certified and sustainable cocoa directly supports higher incomes for farmers and improved labor and environmental standards.
  • We also recognize that certification alone will not solve all of the challenges within the cocoa supply.

We’re also working to improve farmer incomes. To help increase farmers’ income from cocoa, we are paying the West African Living Income Differential; a premium paid to the government that should help support farmer income. This is on top of the premium we already pay farmers for our certified cocoa. We will continue providing training and resources to farmers to diversify their income, which will increase their resilience against market shocks. We do this by providing training and resources on growing alternate crops and supporting income-generating activities for women’s group in the local community.

These efforts are all part of our Cocoa For Good strategy we launched in 2018, a $500 million investment to further expand holistic interventions within cocoa farming communities. To date, we have worked with 54,000 cocoa-growing families. While we’ve made good progress, we need to move faster and expand our programs further.

We believe children can reach their full potential in the classroom only when they have proper nutrition to focus on their studies. We are expanding our proven ViVi school feeding program with our partners Project Peanut Butter and the Ivorian National Nutrition Council, to open a second ViVi nutritional supplement factory in Cote d’Ivoire and begin distributing the food to 25,000 Ivorian school children this year. ViVi is made from locally grown peanuts and has been proven in Ghana to reduce anemia and improve educational performance, and we’re optimistic for a similar result in Cote d’Ivoire. We are also partnering with Hellen Keller International to bring training to new mothers to enhance their knowledge and skills regarding newborn nutrition and early childhood development.

The growing threat of climate change is critically important to cocoa ecosystems, and Hershey is committed to doing its part to protect the environment. We’re strengthening our zero-deforestation commitment as part of the Cocoa and Forest Initiative. We are increasing the coverage of our satellite monitoring systems and mapping 100% of the West African cocoa farms in our supply chain, ensuring we have real-time and accurate monitoring. We are also supporting new solutions for farmers to obtain affordable land titles to promote farm rehabilitation and increase shade tree planting. In 2018 we distributed almost 2.7 million cocoa and shade tree saplings.

Building and announcing sustainability plans is easy; executing them is hard. We must work in partnership with farmers and communities, our suppliers, and interact with wider industry actors and governments to move forward. And this takes time. But we’re committed to making substantive and systemic change. And we will be transparent and continue to publish our progress in our yearly Sustainability Report.

We’re confident that together with all stakeholders in the cocoa supply chain, we can make positive change to ensure we will make more moments of goodness for everyone.