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February 07, 2014
Hershey Exceeds Target for Sourcing Sustainable Cocoa
    by Robert Kropp

Shareowner engagement by members of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility helps the Hershey Company exceed its commitment to ensuring that 10% of its cocoa supply would be certified by 2013.

An estimated 1.8 children are involved in farming cocoa in West Africa. To help address the injustice, the Joint Action Plan of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, launched in 2010, “commits a combined USD 17 million over ten years to build capacity in cocoa growing communities and to increase efforts to '[reduce] the worst forms of child labor in the production of cocoa in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire by 70 percent by 2020'” according to Verite, a Massachusetts-based auditor of human rights in corporate supply chains.

But the Harkin-Engel Protocol itself was agreed to by the industry in 2001, and sustainable investors have been among the advocates for the rights of children in the cocoa industry for many years. As far back as 2007, Walden Asset Management withdrew a shareowner resolution filed with Hershey after the company agreed to a supplier code of conduct that included independent monitoring. Hershey has a 43% share in the US chocolate market.

Among Hershey's commitments is sourcing 100% of its cocoa from certified sources by 2020. It had committed to sourcing 10% of its cocoa from certified sources by 2013, and the company recently announced that it had surpassed its target by sourcing 18% from certified sources last year.

Sustainable investors commended Hershey on the success of its commitments. “Investors are pleased that Hershey was able to surpass its original goal sending a clear signal of its commitment to ethical sourcing practices, a press release from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) stated. “Certified cocoa meets comprehensive sustainability standards meant to protect children, workers, communities and the environment.”

“Shareholders are extremely encouraged that Hershey is on its way to achieving its goal of 100% certified cocoa by 2020,” ICCR member Sr. Nora Nash of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia said. “These commitments ensure the safety and well-being of thousands of children and must be upheld.”

Hershey also announced that 100% of the cocoa for its Scharffen Berger brand was sourced from certified farms, joining its Bliss and Dagoba brands.

“The amount of measureable progress Hershey has made in the past year is encouraging, in terms of certified cocoa and in other initiatives meant to improve conditions in cocoa-farming communities,” said Chris Meyer of Everence Financial and Praxis Mutual Funds.


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