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Hershey announces commitment to grow sustainable cocoa

FBR Staff Writer Published 25 March 2013

US chocolate manufacturer Hershey has announced its ‘21St Century Cocoa Plan’, a new strategy to help cocoa communities around the world grow sustainable cocoa for the next century.

As part of the plan, the company will combine its sourcing practices to expand the supply of sustainable cocoa. It will also invest in community programs that improve education and the livelihoods of cocoa-growing families around the world.

Hershey president and chief executive officer John P Bilbrey said that through the Hershey 21St Century Cocoa Plan, the company is 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," Bilbrey added.

An important aspect of the Hershey's 21St Century Cocoa Plan is the company's commitment to source 100% third-party certified cocoa for all of its chocolate products worldwide by 2020. The company had announced this commitment in October 2012.

Hershey noted that it 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, it plans to work with other well-established certification organizations to expand their capacity to certify more cocoa farmers globally.

The cocoa plan includes expanding the company's CocoaLink mobile phone program, which uses mobile technology to deliver practical agricultural and social training to rural cocoa farmers at no cost.

The mobile programme was 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.

Hershey's 21St Century Cocoa Plan also features 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.

Hershey noted that these initiatives to modernize cocoa farming will increase farmer incomes, attract new farmers and improve cocoa growing communities.