During the past half-century, The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) has helped family cocoa farmers and communities develop more productive agriculture practices, build educational and community resources, and improve labor practices. The company is now expanding these initiatives to modernize cocoa farming to increase farmer incomes, attract new farmers and improve cocoa growing communities. Today, Hershey announces its “21 St 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,” said John P. Bilbrey, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Hershey Company. “Through our Hershey 21 St 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.” 100% Certified Sustainable Cocoa A cornerstone of Hershey’s 21 St Century Cocoa Plan is its commitment to source 100 percent 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 five percent 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.2020 Certified Cocoa Milestones In the five months since announcing its 100 percent third-party certified cocoa commitment, Hershey has made substantial progress towards its 2020 goals. The company is on track to source at least 10 percent 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 percent by 2020. The company has committed to scaling its certified cocoa purchases at the following rate:
- At least 10 percent by the end of 2013
- 40 to 50 percent by the end of 2016
- 100 percent by 2020
- Registered more than 16,000 cocoa farmers – about 35 percent 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.
Accelerating Change to Improve LivesHershey’s 21 St Century Cocoa Plan represents a range of on-the-ground programs and initiatives that work together to accelerate positive change in the cocoa growing regions over the next seven years. For example, in Mexico, Hershey and cocoa supplier Agroindustrias Unidas de Cacao SA de CV have launched the Mexico Cocoa Project, a 10-year initiative to reintroduce cocoa growing in southern Mexico and help restore the country’s cocoa crop after it had been nearly decimated by the spread of a disease known as frosty pod rot. Through the distribution of disease-tolerant trees, the program intends to improve the livelihoods of more than 1,000 cocoa farmers and their families in the region and quadruple family incomes. Through its own and partner programs, Hershey estimates the total portfolio of programs encompassed by its 21 St Century Cocoa Plan will directly impact 750,000 cocoa farmers and indirectly benefit more than two million West Africans through utilization of technology, farmer training on good agricultural practice, cocoa seed nurseries and planting material, farm inputs on credit, village resource centers, malaria prevention, community infrastructure, village school construction, and literacy and health programs. Hershey will regularly update its progress on the Hershey’s 21 St Century Cocoa Plan and its various programs through its Corporate Social Responsibility public reporting and on its website. About The Hershey Company The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) is the largest producer of quality chocolate in North America and a global leader in chocolate and sugar confectionery. Headquartered in Hershey, Pa., The Hershey Company has operations throughout the world and approximately 14,000 employees. With revenues of more than $6.6 billion, Hershey offers confectionery products under more than 80 brand names, including such iconic brands as Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses, Hershey's Bliss, Hershey's Special Dark, Kit Kat, Twizzlers, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers. The company is focused on growing its presence in key international markets such as China, Mexico and Brazil while continuing to build its competitive advantage in the United States and Canada. For more than 100 years, The Hershey Company has been a leader in making a positive difference in the communities where its employees live, work and do business. Corporate Social Responsibility is an integral part of the company’s global business strategy, which includes goals and priorities focused on fair and ethical business dealings, environmental stewardship, fostering a desirable workplace for employees, and positively impacting society and local communities. Milton Hershey School, established in 1909 by the company's founder and funded by a trust administered by Hershey Trust Company, provides a quality education, housing, and medical care at no cost to children in social and financial need. Students of Milton Hershey School are direct beneficiaries of The Hershey Company's success.