Hershey’s CSR Report: Engaging on the Issues that Matter to Stakeholders in the Marketplace

Hershey's Programs and Progress
Sep 11, 2012 10:15 AM ET
  • $10 million investment in cocoa sustainability efforts, including Rainforest Alliance certification of the Bliss® brand
  • CocoaLink, a first-of-its kind mobile technology program that is improving lives in cocoa communities across Ghana
  • Hershey Learn to Grow, a development center in Ghana’s cocoa region that seeks to double yields and income and improve the life for 1,250 cocoa farm families
  • Investments in consumer health through nutrition research, products that offer the health benefits of chocolate and cocoa, and programs to enjoy a balanced lifestyle

(3BL Media) September 11, 2012 - The Hershey Company recently issued its second Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report – “Listen. Learn. Act.” – outlining how the company has taken action to address the topics and issues in the Marketplace of greatest concern to many of our stakeholders. The Marketplace is one of the four pillars of Hershey’s Corporate Social Responsibility Framework, and one where the company devotes significant time and resources to manage our marketplace performance.

Hershey’s prides itself on taking an approach that engages with stakeholders throughout its value chain.  This includes cocoa farmers and their communities, grocers, large retailers, parents, consumer groups, governments, and nongovernmental organizations.  These interactions provide critical feedback and help guide meaningful Marketplace priorities and programs for Hershey.

Hershey’s CSR Report reveals that the company met or exceeded its Marketplace goals for 2011, launching several substantive programs in areas ranging from cocoa sustainability to food safety to consumer-well being.

Responsible Sourcing

In January 2012, Hershey announced a $10 million, five-year commitment behind a comprehensive set of programs and initiatives to reduce child labor and improve cocoa supply in West Africa.  These cocoa sustainability efforts will raise living standards for 750,000 cocoa farmers and two million community members by 2020.  These initiatives include the certification of the cocoa used in the Hershey’s Bliss line of premium chocolates in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance.  Hershey and the Rainforest Alliance will work with farmers to improve long-standing agricultural practices, help them curb their contribution to climate change, and help prepare the farmers to adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

Hershey believes that cocoa certification, along with many other comprehensive programs including agricultural training, access to information and education, and innovative uses of technology all work together to assist cocoa-farming communities in moving toward more profitable farming, improved livelihoods for families and children as well as a more sustainable supply of cocoa.

Cocoa Sustainability

In July 2011, The Hershey Company launched CocoaLink, a first-of-its kind program that uses mobile technology to deliver practical and critical agricultural and social training to rural cocoa farmers. CocoaLink is available to any cocoa famer with access to a mobile phone. Currently, 70 percent of Ghanaians have mobile phones, creating an opportunity to spread valuable agricultural and social information to rural cocoa farmers. The farmers can receive voice and text messages free of charge in their local language or English that include actionable information about good farming practices, farm safety, crop disease prevention, and other important topics. In its first year, CocoaLink has delivered more than 100,000 farmer and family messages and is on track to reach 25,000 farmers in 2012.

Hershey recently partnered with nonprofit Source Trust to create the Hershey Learn To Grow program, a farmer and family development center in the heart of Ghana’s central cocoa region.  At the Center, farmers receive training that seeks to double yields and income and improve the living standards for 1,250 cocoa farm families over four years.  The training focuses on improved agricultural, environmental, social and business practices that will also address the child labor issue. 

The Center’s first project was an innovative GPS mapping effort to help Ghanaian farmers determine the precise size of their farms so they can make the best use of the latest practices in planting, pruning and fertilizer use to increase their yields and incomes. The Hershey Learn To Grow program is an example of how Source Trust and Hershey are dedicated to helping farmers improve their livelihoods through better crop yields and quality through sustainable farming practices.

Hershey continued its commitment to cocoa sustainability through a $2.8 million investment in the Mexico Cocoa Project, a new program designed to revitalize cocoa growing in southern Mexico. Since 2001 the Mexico cocoa crop – and the livelihoods of approximately 37,000 cocoa famers and their families – have been impacted by a variety of factors including the spread of diseases affecting cocoa pods. Hershey’s investment in the program introduce disease resistant cocoa trees that allow for the doubling of family incomes, improved farmer livelihoods, and increased supply of sustainable cocoa in the same region where cocoa use can be traced back more than 2,000 years to the ancient Mesoamerica cultures of the Mayans and Aztecs, who considered it a “food of the gods.” 

Consumer Well-Being

Hershey brands are synonymous with food of the highest quality – treats that can be trusted to be as safe and enjoyable.  The company has committed substantial resources to ensure that its manufacturing plants as well as its supply chain partners incorporate rigorous safety and quality standards.  Hershey’s quality-assurance systems and process are second to none and are carefully monitored and rigorously enforced in wholly owned and joint-venture manufacturing plants and third-party manufacturing partners and suppliers worldwide. 

Hershey has committed substantial resources to and has attained the highest level of Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification – Level 3 – at 11 wholly owned manufacturing facilities and one joint venture facility.  Plans are in place to have the others certified within the next two years.

Hershey’s is committed to helping consumers live a balanced lifestyle and has launched several programs to put this commitment into action. Hershey’s believes that Hershey’s chocolates and other confectionary products can be part of a balanced lifestyle that incorporates healthy eating and daily activity. The Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition sponsors and collaborates with other institutions through research on the impact of cocoa, chocolate and nuts on cardiovascular health, weight management, cognitive function and exercise stamina.  This information is used in the development of new products that capitalize on the research about the health benefits of chocolate and cocoa.

In addition, Hershey’s Moderation Nation, launched in September 2010, is the go-to source for balanced lifestyle tips and tools to enjoy happiness through well-being every day. In collaboration with a diverse panel of lifestyle experts, the American Council on Exercise and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the campaign offers balanced eating tips, recipes, practical solutions for daily activity and play, and strategies for work-life fit.

Looking to the Future

Hershey is working on all fronts to understand and improve supply-chain performance, maintain the highest safety and quality in its products, and promote healthy and active lifestyles among those who enjoy Hershey products.

In the first quarter of 2012, Hershey developed several new marketplace goals to be achieved over the next several years. Hershey’s focus on CocoaLink will continue as the company will launch the program in Cote d’Ivoire, another large cocoa producing country in West Africa, and seek to continue to enroll more cocoa farmers in Ghana.

Hershey is committed to attaining a deep understanding of our supply chain performance and impacts – in particular with regard to human rights, product safety and environmental issues. To assist in this effort, Hershey engages with qualified third parties such as the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex) and AIM-Progress.  Hershey joined both organizations in 2011, and both are focused on raising awareness of and driving improvements in responsible and ethical business practices in global supply chains. Hershey has begun to initiate internal and external social audits through these relationships and will continue to do so throughout 2012 and beyond.

For more information on Hershey CSR progress and programs, read Hershey’s CSR reports at: http://www.thehersheycompany.com/social-responsibility/csr-report.aspx