The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) today said it will source 100 percent certified cocoa for its global chocolate product lines by 2020 and accelerate its programs to help eliminate child labor in the cocoa regions of West Africa. Certified cocoa will be verified through independent auditors to assure that it is grown in line with the highest internationally recognized standards for labor, environmental and better farming practices. As Hershey increases its use of certified cocoa, the company will also continue to support community-based programs with local African partners, national governments and development agencies. These projects include village school construction, mobile phone farmer messaging, literacy and health programs and training in modern farming techniques. Currently, certified cocoa accounts for less than five percent of the world’s cocoa supply. As the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America, Hershey believes its 2020 purchasing commitment should significantly expand the global supply of certified cocoa, particularly from West Africa, which produces about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa. “Consistent with Hershey’s values, we are directly addressing the economic and social issues that impact West Africa’s two million cocoa farmers and families,” said J.P. Bilbrey, president and chief executive officer, The Hershey Company. “Expanding the use of certified cocoa across our iconic chocolate brands while working with public and private partners, demonstrates Hershey’s responsible sourcing practices. I am confident that we can make a substantial difference in West Africa by 2020.” As announced earlier this year, Hershey’s Bliss chocolates will be Rainforest Alliance certified and available to consumers by year end. Hershey’s Dagoba organic chocolate is currently 100 percent Rainforest Alliance certified. Hershey also said today that its Scharffen Berger brand will source 100 percent certified cocoa by the end of 2013. Hershey has set a community programming target to reach more than two million West Africans in cocoa villages through its public/private partnerships and programs, including:
- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Framework of Action to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa industry in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire.
- United Nations International Labor Organization
- World Cocoa Foundation projects, including Cocoa Livelihoods Program with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other companies
- United States Agency for International Development
- Development of the world’s first mobile phone network – CocoaLink – for cocoa farmers in West Africa. The program is already successfully operating in Ghana and Hershey will launch CocoaLink in Ivory Coast in 2013.
- The HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW farmer and family development center is assisting 25 community-based farmer organizations in central Ghana.