The company also has set benchmarks for reaching 100 percent certified by 2020 as part of its 21st Century Cocoa Plan. Hershey suppliers work with Fair Trade USA, UTZ Certified and Rainforest Alliance to verify that cocoa is grown in line with the highest internationally recognized standards for labor, environment and better farming practices, the company says. As Hershey’s buying volume increases, the company says it will work with other well-established certification organizations to expand its capacity to certify more cocoa farmers globally.
Hershey has committed to scaling its certified cocoa purchases at the following rate:
- At least 10 percent by the end of 2013.
- Forty to 50 percent by the end of 2016.
- One hundred percent by 2020.
Hershey first announced its 100 percent third-party certified cocoa commitment last October. At the time, it did not say what certification program it would use or set benchmarks toward reaching its goal.
As of the end of 2012, certified cocoa accounts for less than 5 percent of the world’s cocoa supply, according to Hershey.
The Hershey 21st Century Cocoa Plan also includes accelerating and expanding its CocoaLink mobile phone program, which the company 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.
CocoaLink uses mobile technology to deliver agricultural and social training to rural cocoa farmers at no cost. Today, more than nine in 10 Ghanaian cocoa farmers have access to a mobile phone. Since launching in Ghana in July 2011, CocoaLink has registered more than 16,000 cocoa farmers — about 35 percent are women — in 550 communities across Ghana’s cocoa growing sector.
The Hershey Learn To Grow farmer and family development center, launched in 2012 in Assin Fosu in Ghana’s central cocoa region, will also play an important role in Hershey’s overall sustainable cocoa plans, the company says. The center, created in partnership with Source Trust, a nonprofit organization that helps farmers improve their livelihoods through better crop yields and quality, will provide Hershey with verified cocoa that can be traced back to the individual farm level.
Hershey Learn To Grow and 25 participating community-based farmer organizations will help improve the living standards of 1,250 cocoa farm families through good agricultural, environmental, social and business practices training; access to improved planting material; and finance for farm inputs with the goal to double productivity yield and farm income over four years, the company says. More than 50 percent of farm family income in this region comes from cocoa.