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What Cocoa Sustainability Means at Hershey

Now in its fourth year, our cocoa sustainability strategy, Cocoa for Good, is nourishing children, empowering youth, helping communities prosper and preserving ecosystems.
Angela Tejada Chavez
Head of Sustainable Sourcing

Key Takeaways:

    • Almost 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, where cocoa farming communities are facing environmental and economic challenges. Hershey is committed to creating a more sustainable cocoa supply chain and a better future for these communities.
    • We are working to drive systemic change through our sustainable cocoa strategy—Cocoa For Good.
    • Hershey’s is making progress toward meeting our sustainability goals. In addition to maintaining our commitment to source 100% independently verified cocoa, we are committed to achieving 100% sourcing visibility in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by requiring that by 2025, 100% of farms producing Hershey’s cocoa volume in these countries are polygon mapped by our suppliers to improve traceability and monitor deforestation and are covered by Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems to prevent, monitor, and remediate child labor.

Nearly 70 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from two countries in West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The crop is a critical and often sole source of cash for millions of smallholder farming families and supports the livelihood of millions more people in both countries. Unfortunately, environmental and economic difficulties are presenting serious challenges for West African cocoa farmers. Many typically have low incomes, often at or below the poverty line. Basic infrastructure is minimal or non-existent and implementation of land-rights is evolving. Additionally, new cocoa production is frequently expanded by bringing forested land under cultivation rather than increasing crop yields on existing farmland.

Beyond that, severe economic pressure on families too often means that children are needed to help out with the production and harvesting of cocoa, sometimes resulting in these children missing school and performing tasks that are hazardous to their health and well-being.

We are committed to preventing and eliminating these practices and helping cocoa farming communities be sustainable and prosperous.

A Deep Commitment to Responsible Cocoa Sourcing and Driving Systemic Change

Hershey was built on making moments of goodness for people to enjoy – a philosophy and belief that extends across our entire operations and supply chain. This includes ensuring responsible, sustainable practices, from sourcing the ingredients through to how the products are made. That’s why we are deeply committed to creating a cocoa supply chain where:

  • Natural ecosystems in cocoa producing countries are protected and cocoa no longer contribute to deforestation
  • Cocoa farmers have the possibility to earn a living income
  • Children of cocoa farmers realize their full potential through education and a healthy upbringing

Our Sustainable Cocoa Strategy – Cocoa For Good

To achieve these goals, we are focused on:

  1. Long-term and comprehensive investment in the most vulnerable cocoa-farming communities to build their capability and resilience, encourage women to participate more fully in decision making, provide increased opportunities for young people, and diversify incomes to improve quality of life.
  2. Partnering with our suppliers to drive improvements throughout the entire supply chain through our commitment to achieve by 2025 100% sourcing visibility in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by requiring polygon mapping of all farms from farmers producing Hershey’s cocoa volume so that we can better track our cocoa supply and drive efforts to halt deforestation, and coverage of all farming households with child labor monitoring and remediation systems.
  3. Co-creating Public-Private Partnerships between governments, companies and civil society to drive systematic change at a sector-wide level, strengthening rural, national and regional policies and economies.

A sneak peek into 2021 Results

Sustainability is serious business and throughout the last few years, we have made significant progress. I’d like to give you a glimpse into what we have been working on in 2021 that is at the forefront of our daily activities and strategic sourcing decisions:

  • We maintained our commitment to source 100% independently verified cocoa
  • 68% sourcing visibility of the Hershey’s cocoa volume in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana was from known farmers and farmer groups and independently verified, meaning that we understand better how and under what conditions the cocoa volume we source is grown and cultivated. This enables us to refine Cocoa For Good, implementing programs that focus on helping improve farmer incomes, prevent, and eliminate child labor, and protect the environment. Understanding the origin of cocoa is also essential to ensure that it meets our human rights and environmental requirements.
  • We made progress toward achieving our Cocoa & Forests Initiative commitments in 2021. This included distributing more than 500,000 non-cocoa trees to farmers for planting on their farms and carrying out deforestation risk assessment on more than 135,000 hectares (334,000 acres) in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Additionally, we supported the development of agroforestry on more than 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) and trained nearly 30,000 farmers on climate-smart cocoa farming practices. To motivate better land and ecosystem stewardship, we provided financial incentives, or payments for environmental services, to nearly 840 farmers in Ghana.
  • Our supplier-led CLMRS programs covered 102,942 children last year. These are children that live in cocoa farming households within our Cocoa For Good program and are receiving the benefits of this program that seeks to prevent child labor from happening, identify instances of child labor and take action when found. We are on track to meet our commitment of 100% coverage of farmers producing Hershey’s cocoa volume in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana by 2025, achieving 62% since we began implementing CLMRS in 2018. A total of 11,519 children were identified via CLMRS in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana since the program began in 2018 as doing inappropriate work and are in process of remediation. No children in our supply chain were found to be victims of forced labor.
  • Additionally, with education and nutrition at the core of The Hershey Company, we began our $3 million investment in Children Learning and Education Facility (CLEF), which will reach 5 million children in Côte d’Ivoire with quality primary education and continued a $2 million annual investment in our Energize Learning project, which is now reaching more than 45,000 school children in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana with a nutritional supplement called ViVi that provides 30% of their daily vitamin intake needs.

Supporting Increased Farmer Incomes and Resilience

As we collectively navigate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic uncertainties, we have seen that past investments in farmer groups, communities, and social infrastructures such as Village Savings and Loans Associations, have paid off. But we continue to see the vulnerability of rural communities that depend on cocoa for their livelihoods. This has only strengthened our belief to continue with Cocoa For Good, and motivates me and the Cocoa For Good team daily to bring goodness to the core ingredient in our iconic chocolates.