We source the highest-quality beet and cane sugars for our global operations from a number of countries, all which have varying environmental and social practices and issues.
Our Sugar Supply Chain
Our sugar beet supply comes from the United States. Our sugarcane supply mainly comes from the U.S., Mexico, Belize and Brazil. We source sugar from other countries as well, such as India, China and Malaysia. The sugar sources can vary, but typically comes from 15-20 direct suppliers.
Our Approach to Responsibly Sourced Sugar
In 2016, Hershey launched our Sustainable Sugar Sourcing Policy and committed to procuring 100% of our sugar from responsible and sustainable sources by 2020.
To do that, we knew we’d have to work closely with suppliers and partners who share our values and were prepared to follow thorough action plans to produce responsible, ethical, sustainable sugar.
- We require that all the facilities we source sugar from in the U.S. have an up-to-date ethical trade audit from SEDEX, a leading nonprofit focused on improving ethical performance in corporate supply chains.
- For all sugar we use that is grown outside the U.S., we seek to purchase Bonsucro certified mass balance sugar where possible. When this is not feasible, we purchase Bonsucro credits to match the volumes of the conventional sugar we buy from international sources or invest in on-farm programs that promote sustainable production.
As of 2019, 65% of our sugar was certified and sustainably sourced; we are on track to achieve our 100% commitment in 2020.
In 2020, we are updating our Sustainable Sugar Sourcing policy to focus on the key environmental and human rights challenges and issues identified in our sugar supply chain. We will provide additional details on this site in early 2021.
Hershey joined Bonsucro’s sustainable sugarcane initiative in 2018 to address the many issues impacting sugarcane farmers and provide sustainably sourced cane sugar for our Hershey brands. Bonsucro is a global multi-stakeholder nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable sugarcane production, processing and trade around the world. The Bonsucro certification helps address many of the sustainability challenges associated with sugarcane, such as:
- Protecting biodiversity and natural resources through land use planning and environmental management.
- Protecting ground- and surface water from pollution, effluents and waste from sugarcane fields and from mills.
- Reducing air pollution from field burning and other activities producing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Providing capacity building on good agricultural and harvesting practices for smallholder farmers to improve yields and livelihoods.
- Ensuring the rights of sugarcane workers are respected.
We source 100% Bonsucro certified mass balance sugar for our plants in Canada and Brazil to meet the market demand for sustainable ingredients and support the sector’s certified suppliers for their demonstrated commitment to ethical production. When available, we also sometimes source Bonsucro certified mass balance sugar for our plants in the U.S. and Mexico.
To further promote sustainable sugarcane production and support the sector’s certified suppliers, we also purchase Bonsucro credits to match the volumes of the conventional sugar we buy from international sources when Bonsucro certified sugar is not available in those locations. Certified sugar producers can create credits to increase the uptake of their certified product on the market if they are unable to find a local buyer for their Bonsucro certified sugar and must sell it as conventional sugar. Bonsucro credits help to reward certified producers and also generate investment in improvement projects that Bonsucro runs with producers committed to improvement but not yet certified.
Learn to Grow Programs
Since 2016, Hershey has partnered with our supplier, American Sugar Refining, and Belize’s Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute to continue our Learn to Grow program for Belize’s sugarcane farmers. The program uses a farmer field school model to help farmers learn about and implement sustainable growing practices, such as improving soil health, better pest management, and efficient application of fertilizers and herbicides. The program also promotes a no ‘re-burning’ approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil quality.
In 2017, Hershey started a second phase of the program focused on cane quality and improving farmer incomes. Sugarcane farmers earn income based on the sugar content in their cane crop, a metric which is impossible to determine when looking at the outside of the cane. This second phase uses cutting-edge technology to analyze cane samples and help farmers determine the optimum time to harvest their cane, capturing the most sugar content and the most income.
During the past three years, just under 5,000 farmers have participated in the program and benefited from increased yields while lowering their environmental impact. We’ve been so pleased with the results that in November 2019 we launched a Learn to Grow sugar program in Mexico.