Dauphin County-based Hershey will fund the construction of a Project Peanut Butter factory in Ghana that will produce the peanut-based vitamin-enriched Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods, or RUTFs. The nonprofit will then distribute the RUTFs to relief agencies that provide them to children in rural Ghana, one of the leading cocoa-producing countries in the world.
“Because of our experience in peanut processing and our commitment to improving communities in West Africa, Project Peanut Butter is an exciting project for us,” Michele Buck, Hershey’s senior vice president and chief growth officer, said in a statement.
Ghana is one of the top 10 peanut-producing countries in the world, but it also has a persistent problem with insecurity of its food supply for the general population, leading to widespread malnutrition in children, according to Hershey.
St. Louis-based Project Peanut Butter will buy its peanuts for the RUTFs from Ghanaian farmers, and Hershey will help with its expertise in sourcing and processing peanuts, according to the company.
During the past year, Hershey has been investing more heavily in programs to improve the quality of life in West African countries, where much of the world’s cocoa is produced. Earlier in the year, Hershey committed to spending $10 million over five years on health and wellness, social, farming and economic programs in West African countries.
It also announced that by 2020 it would buy all of its cocoa from certified sustainably managed farms in those countries.
However, the company is facing a civil suit from a Louisiana pension fund that holds company stock. The pension fund is demanding to see back records for Hershey’s cocoa sourcing to determine if it benefitted from cocoa produced using illegal child labor.
Hershey, based in Derry Township, trades its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HSY.