“Consistent with Hershey’s values, we are directly addressing the economic and social issues that impact West Africa’s two million cocoa farmers and families,” Hershey President and CEO John P. Bilbrey said in statement. “Expanding the use of certified cocoa across our iconic chocolate brands while working with public and private partners demonstrates Hershey’s responsible sourcing practices. I am confident that we can make a substantial difference in West Africa by 2020.”
The Dauphin County-based candy and chocolate company said the cocoa will be certified through independent auditors to assure it was grown in line with the highest international standards for labor, environmental and better farming practices.
As Hershey increases its sustainable cocoa purchases, it will also invest more in community-based programs to improve the lives of people in West African countries, where most of the world’s cocoa is grown, according to the company. Those projects include village school construction, mobile phone farmer messaging, literacy and health programs, and training in modern farming techniques.
In January, Hershey announced it would use certified cocoa from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms for its Bliss and Dagoba products, as well as invest $10 million over five years into African communities for social and economic programs.
Hershey, based in Derry Township, trades its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HSY.