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Hershey Using ‘Cocoa for Good,’ Investing $500M to Support Farming Communities

Farmers tending to cocoa seedlings at the Kwame Adu Community/Group Cocoa Seedling Nursery, in Adansi South, Ashanti Region, Ghana. | Image credit: The Hershey Company

The Hershey Company has announced a new comprehensive strategy for cocoa sustainability with an emphasis on addressing pressing issues facing cocoa-growing communities such as poverty, poor nutrition, at-risk youth, and vulnerable ecosystems. Cocoa For Good will involve collaborative programs, partnerships, and a half-a-billion dollars in investments by 2030.

“As a critical player in the cocoa value chain, we are committed to doing our part. The Hershey Company has been partnering with key stakeholders in the cocoa sector for more than 100 years,” said Susanna Zhu, Chief Procurement Officer at Hershey. “Under Cocoa For Good, we continue to work toward a future where there’s a long-term, sustainable cocoa supply, the natural environment is protected, and we are creating better lives for everyone. It’s good for the cocoa farmers, families, communities, chocolate consumers and the success of our business.”

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Cocoa For Good is expected to impact the lives of thousands of farmers in cocoa-growing regions with a focus on West Africa, where about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is grown. Work and investments will prioritize:

  • Nourishing children. Building on its goal to nourish 1 million children’s minds by 2020, Hershey will continue increasing family access to good nutrition. Improved access to food and proper nutrition has a ripple effect, providing opportunities for children to succeed in school and adults to thrive in their jobs.
  • Elevating youth. Hershey is working with partners to increase education opportunities and equip youth in cocoa-growing regions with the skills and resources they need to build successful futures, in their local communities and beyond. Elimination of child labor, a known symptom of poverty, is a fundamental component of this ambition.
  • Building prosperous communities. Through project investments, Hershey aims to increase household incomes for women and men, economically empower women, and help all farmers support prosperous businesses. The company notes that growing the opportunity and means for women and men to sustain healthy livelihoods in cocoa-growing communities is essential to safeguarding the future of those communities.
  • Preserving natural ecosystems. Hershey has committed to protecting forests by increasing agroforestry and eliminating deforestation from its supply chain. The company expects to invest in innovative agroforestry methods and growing cocoa in shaded areas that are more productive as part of these efforts. Cocoa grown in the shade is productive for up to 15 years longer than cocoa grown in full sun. In Ghana, increasing shade-grown cocoa farming will be aided by the recent grant of ownership of timber trees to cocoa farmers.

“Cocoa is a tremendous part of the livelihoods for the people of Côte D’Ivoire and public-private partnerships are critical to improving the lives of people living in cocoa communities and protecting our precious natural resources,” said H.E. Daniel Kablan Duncan, VP of the Republic of Côte D’Ivoire. “We value our partnership with The Hershey Company and look forward to working together to bring about the meaningful change that this new investment will catalyze.”

In West African countries such as Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire, women make up 45% of cocoa farm labor, but have less access to training, financial services and land than men. Economic empowerment of women continues to be a focus for Hershey under the new strategy. For example, collaborative initiatives provided training and support that allowed Owusu Prempeh, who has been farming cocoa in the New Edubiase District of Ghana for the last five years, to increase her cocoa yields year over year.

“I have sold cocoa to many companies, but I have not benefitted from them like I have with Hershey. The trainings have increased productivity on my farm, especially with the extensive pruning of my cocoa trees,” said Prempeh. “I am grateful to Hershey for the premiums they paid to us. We used part of our premium to purchase school uniforms, school bags, books and other school accessories to support school children in the community.”

Hershey also remains committed to its goal to source 100% certified and sustainable cocoa by 2020. Related traceability and transparency efforts include the use of Sourcemap, which captures data along the supply chain and maps suppliers including smallholders.

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