The Hershey Company has announced its 21St Century Cocoa Plan, a roadmap for how the company will work to help cocoa communities around the world grow sustainable cocoa for the next century. Hershey will combine its responsible sourcing practices to expand the supply of sustainable cocoa while investing in community programs that improve education and the livelihoods of cocoa-growing families around the world.
“Cocoa is at the heart of our business and we care deeply that this key ingredient is grown in a safe, healthy and sustainable manner,” says John P. Bilbrey, president and CEO at The Hershey Company. “Through our Hershey 21St Century Cocoa Plan, we are taking meaningful and measurable steps and making a positive difference in the health and well-being of cocoa communities.
“This is a watershed moment for our industry to work together with cocoa growing nations to increase opportunities for farmers through better training, financing and community development. The complexity of the challenges requires us to work together with a focused plan.”
A cornerstone of Hershey’s 21St Century Cocoa Plan is its commitment to source 100% third-party certified cocoa for all of its chocolate products worldwide by 2020. Certified cocoa is verified by independent auditors who assess against established standards for labor, environmental and sustainable farming practices.
With about 5% of the world’s cocoa supply certified at the end of 2012 and the need for certified cocoa growing, Hershey believes its 2020 commitment – announced last October – is already helping expand the global supply of certified cocoa.
Hershey has already committed to source cocoa through three of the world’s most recognized cocoa certifying organizations: UTZ, Fairtrade USA and Rainforest Alliance. As Hershey’s buying volume increases, the company will be working with other well-established certification organizations to expand their capacity to certify more cocoa farmers globally.
In the five months since announcing its 100% third-party certified cocoa commitment, the company is on track to source at least 10% of its total global cocoa purchases from certified sources in 2013, the first year of its 2020 commitment. Hershey also announced benchmarks for reaching 100% by 2020. The company has committed to scaling its certified cocoa purchases at the following rate:
- At least 10% by the end of 2013
- 40 to 50% by the end of 2016
- 100% by 2020
The company will continue to provide updates on its certified cocoa progress throughout the next seven years as part of its ongoing CSR reporting.
The Hershey 21St Century Cocoa Plan also includes accelerating and expanding its innovative and successful CocoaLink mobile phone program, which the company launched in 2011 in Ghana with the Ghana Cocoa Board and the World Cocoa Foundation. In 2013, the program will expand into Cote d’Ivoire, a major cocoa-producing country.
CocoaLink is a first-of-its kind program that uses mobile technology to deliver practical agricultural and social training to rural cocoa farmers at no cost. Today, more than nine in 10 Ghanaian cocoa farmers have access to a mobile phone. Since launching in Ghana in July 2011, CocoaLink has:
- Registered more than 16,000 cocoa farmers – about 35% of whom are women – in 550 communities across Ghana’s cocoa growing sector,
- Provided 300,000 SMS messages in the local language on topics that include pruning, planting, fertilizer application, spraying, children’s issues and insect control, and
- Addressed high illiteracy levels through community literacy training.