Hershey commits £355m to supply chain sustainability

Global confectionery company Hershey has committed $500m (£355m) to tackling child labour and links to deforestation in its supply chains, as part of a comprehensive new sustainability strategy.

The Hershey Company unveiled its Cocoa For Good programme on Tuesday (3 April), pledging to tackle the most pressing issues facing cocoa-growing communities. More than £350m has been set aside to eliminate child labour, increase family access to good nutrition and extra income and remove any links to deforestation by 2030.

“A sustainable cocoa supply depends on a multi-stakeholder collaborative approach to find solutions to the social, environmental and economic challenges facing cocoa-growing communities,” Hershey’s chief procurement officer Susanna Zhu said.

“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.”

Deforestation pledge  

The four-pillar plan is expected to impact the lives of thousands of farmers, with a particular focus on West African communities where around 70% of the world’s cocoa is sourced. Notably, Hershey is working to educate young people in these regions with the skills and resources to build resilient supply chains and eliminating child labour and empowering women are two key aspects of the ambition.

The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has accused Hershey – alongside other global confectionery firms – of “moving the goalposts” and breaking palm oil and deforestation pledges.

Hershey said it is committed to sourcing 100% certified, sustainably sourced cocoa by 2020. However, campaigning organisation Mighty Earth has claimed that the global chocolate industry is driving deforestation on a devastating scale in West Africa.

As part of the multi-million-dollar pledge, Hershey will invest in “innovative agroforestry methods” to protect forests and climates. This includes plans to grow cocoa more productively in shaded areas.

Matt Mace

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