Hershey commits $500M to sustainable cocoa initiative in West Africa

5 April, 2018


Hershey has committed to investing $500 million by 2030 on a series of cocoa sustainability strategies that will be implemented in the West African countries of Ghana and Ivory Coast where about 70per cent of the global supply is grown. The company said its “Cocoa For Good” program will focus on poverty, poor nutrition, at-risk youth and vulnerable ecosystems.

Hershey said the initiative includes increasing family access to good nutrition, eliminating child labor, boosting household income and instituting a zero-deforestation policy.

The company will continue to work toward a future where there’s a long-term, sustainable cocoa supply, the natural environment is protected, and are creating better lives for everyone. It’s good for the cocoa farmers, families, communities, chocolate consumers and the success of our business.”  

The benefits for Hershey in this deal consist of a more stable cocoa supply and higher yields, healthier and better-trained farmers, and a more sustainable environment. The company also is enhancing its mission-based profile by showing consumers that it cares about these things aspects shoppers increasingly value and take into account when making a purchase. According to a report from The Hartman Group, nearly 70per cent of consumers prefer that companies be more transparent about their sustainability efforts. 

Cocoa is one of the most important ingredients for the company and that sustainability, along with the well-being of cocoa-growing communities, was a top priority. Hershey has increased its certified and sustainable cocoa sourcing to 60 percent of all cocoa it purchased in 2016 and remains on track to reach 100 percent by 2020. The company raised that number to 75per cent last year.

Given how important chocolate is for a company such as Hershey, it’s no surprise that it has decided to make this $500-million commitment. While the sum may seem like a lot, it would likely pale in comparison to what the company would pay in the long term if cocoa prices soared because there wasn’t enough of the ingredient available. Even though sustainability is part of this commitment, it’s also about Hershey’s future and its bottom line.

Other chocolate companies have made sustainability investments and pledges, including Nestle, Lindt, Mars, Mondelez and Barry Callebaut, although the extent of their commitments and the timelines for completion vary. Their customers are undoubtedly pleased to see them step forward and do what they can to responsibly source cocoa, without which their favorite chocolate bar could become less available and much more expensive.

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