The Hershey Co. (NYSE: HSY) announced that it will be a founding member of CocoaAction, a new strategy to align the cocoa sustainability efforts of the world’s largest cocoa and chocolate companies. CocoaAction creates a new level of coordination and commitment by the leading global cocoa and chocolate companies and governments to promote cocoa sustainability in West Africa.
Under the auspices of the World Cocoa Foundation, which will act as the convener for the group and facilitate the implementation of the industry-wide strategy, CocoaAction seeks to build a rejuvenated and economically viable cocoa sector for at least 300,000 cocoa farmers—200,000 in Côte d’Ivoire and 100,000 in Ghana—and the communities where they live by 2020. By voluntarily working together as an industry, the strategy aims to increase of the impact of the cocoa industry’s numerous sustainability programs. Participating companies have committed to providing the necessary means to achieve a transformation of the cocoa sector. The governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have formally endorsed CocoaAction as the industry’s aligned effort to support their national cocoa sustainability plans.
“A reliable, sustainable supply of ethically grown cocoa is vital to Hershey and the global chocolate and cocoa industry and is the best way to ensure consumers will enjoy delicious, affordable and sustainable cocoa,” said Terrance O’Day, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer at Hershey. “It’s a major breakthrough for key members of the industry to come together and work as a group to solve the challenges facing cocoa farming in West Africa and achieve our mutual sustainability objectives.”
CocoaAction will initially focus on Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, which together provide about 55 percent of the world’s current cocoa supply and where key Hershey cocoa sustainability programs, including CocoaLink and the Hershey Learn to Grow development farm, are already located.
The CocoaAction strategy is built on four key principles that align with Hershey’s cocoa sustainability goals:
- Reinforcing interdependency between productivity-enhancing and community development interventions
- Commitment to a holistic approach in the form of a productivity and community development package that reflects where industry believes it can make a unique and significant contribution
- Field-level delivery that is customized based on local conditions
- Alignment of company programs and interventions within the framework of the national public-private partnership platforms
CocoaAction will focus on increasing productivity through applying good agricultural practices, providing access to improved planting material and fertilizer, correct use of planting materials and fertilizer, and community development. Community efforts include addressing child labor through labor monitoring and remediation, making basic education available, ensuring children go to school, and improving gender parity so that women have a greater influence in their communities’ decision making and development.
In addition to The Hershey Co., the companies that have committed to CocoaAction as of May 20, 2014, are: ADM, Armajaro, Barry Callebaut, Blommer, Cargill, Ecom, Ferrero, Mars Inc., Mondelēz International, Nestlé and Olam. CocoaAction members will share common objectives and agreed upon measurements to determine progress based on a joint set of indicators.