Addressing systemic challenges in cocoa communities, including poverty, deforestation and child labor, is a key priority for The Hershey Company. Our Cocoa For Good strategy, a $500 million investment, outlines our commitment to industry-wide efforts to make cocoa production, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, more sustainable.
I invite you to read our 2021 ESG Report for more details on our commitment to cocoa farming communities and sustainability objectives across our company.
Transparently delivering on our commitments
Hershey has committed to increase transparency in our cocoa supply chain and expand initiatives to make an impact within key areas, including:
• 100 percent sourcing visibility into the farmer groups participating in our Cocoa For Good program representing all of Hershey’s cocoa volume in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. (Currently we are at 68 percent.)
• 100 percent of farmers producing Hershey’s cocoa volume in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana covered by Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) (Currently we are at 62 percent.)
• 100 percent of farms producing Hershey’s cocoa volume in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana polygon mapped by our suppliers to improve traceability and monitor deforestation. (Currently we are at 46 percent.)
From commitment to impact
As part of our commitments, we maintain a clear focus on delivering positive impact.
Knowing that poverty is at the root of deforestation and child labor, Hershey expanded its support to 102 farmer groups in 2021, reaching more than 90,000 farmers. This has enabled more farmers to achieve independent verification of their cocoa in compliance with credible sustainability standards, helping them get paid more for their harvest.
We are also supporting farmers to improve their incomes through:
• the creation of farm development plans — with 31,000 such plans provided in 2021,
• helping community members diversify their incomes, including growing other crops.
More than 2,600 community members received training on alternative income opportunities last year.
In 2021, Hershey-supported Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems covered nearly 103,000 children — a number expected to increase to 125,000 children by 2025. Through “Energize Learning”, our school feeding program, Hershey distributes ViVi — a highly nutritious peanut-based therapeutic supplement — to more than 45,000 school children daily during the academic year in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.
Hershey also directly supports nearly 200 Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) with 5,879 members, 79 percent of whom are women. VSLAs empower cocoa communities by developing jointly managed community-based savings accounts — creating a virtuous cycle of saving and investing in community businesses through loans based on trust among each VSLA’s members.
Collaboration to address challenges in cocoa communities
While we work to build transparency and drive positive impact in our own supply chain, we firmly believe the cocoa sector’s challenges can only be solved through collaborative approaches — with our peers, suppliers, NGOs, government, and others — that emphasize achieving scale, avoid duplication, and ensure greater impact.
We currently partner on a wide range of initiatives — including the Kakum Landscape initiative in Ghana that is helping protect one of the country’s few intact rainforests — and we look forward to working on more of these in the future.
These collaborations must be based on mutual commitment, which is why Hershey holds our suppliers to high standards of integrity and operating principles, requiring them to agree to our Hershey Supplier Code of Conduct. Our code outlines expectations and guidelines with respect to responsible sourcing, including human rights, the environment, health and safety, and business ethics.
Through Cocoa For Good, Hershey has woven sustainability into the core of how we do business — creating and partnering in programs that provide communities with support that can help them transition out of poverty. Our efforts inform us that much work remains to be done and, looking forward to WCF’s 2022 Partnership Meeting in Brussels, we are ready to collaborate with others in this endeavor to achieve even more impact.