Andy McCormick, VP of Public Affairs The Hershey Company speaks to Good News about very important Good News. While 70% of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa, most of it is grown on small family farms and still grown the way it was generations ago. Because cocoa farms are family farms, improving farming increases family income. In fact, West African farmers can increase their cocoa output by 50 percent through modern methods. Statistics show that increasing a farmer’s ability to produce more cocoa is directly linked to increased school attendance in cocoa communities.
Today, The Hershey Company announced that it will expand and accelerate programs to improve cocoa communities by investing $10 million in West Africa. By 2017, Hershey’s public and private partnerships will directly benefit 750,000 African cocoa farmers and over two million people in cocoa communities across the region. Hershey’s commitment focuses on two important groups – cocoa farmers and those who love Hershey’s products.
• In 2012, Hershey will expand CocoaLink, a first-of-its-kind farmer outreach program that uses mobile voice and SMS text messages to connect cocoa farmers with important information about improving farming practices, farm safety, crop disease prevention, post-harvest production and crop marketing.
• Hershey is also establishing the Hershey Learn to Grow farm program in Ghana to provide local farmers with information on best practices in sustainable cocoa farming.
• For the first time, U.S. consumers will be able to purchase Hershey’s Bliss® products with 100% cocoa from Rainforest Alliance certified farms.
HERSHEY EXPANDS RESPONSIBLE COCOA COMMUNITY PROGRAMS IN WEST AFRICA
• CERTIFIED PRODUCTS: Hershey to source cocoa for Hershey’s Bliss® chocolates from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms
• IVORY COAST INVESTMENT: Hershey to expand company’s innovative CocoaLink mobile phone program to farmers in Ivory Coast
• FARMERS & FAMILIES: HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW Farm and Family Development Center to Open in Ghana
• LONG-TERM COMMITMENT: Hershey to invest $10 million by 2017 to reduce child labor and improve cocoa supply in West Africa
HERSHEY, Pa., January 30, 2012 — The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) today announced its plan to reinforce cocoa sustainability efforts by accelerating farmer and family development in West Africa, where 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is grown.
Over the next five years, Hershey will expand and accelerate programs to improve cocoa communities by investing $10 million in West Africa and continuing to work with experts in agriculture, community development and government to achieve progress with cocoa farmers and their families. By 2017, Hershey’s public and private partnerships will directly benefit 750,000 African cocoa farmers and over two million people in cocoa communities across the region.* Because cocoa farms are family farms, improving farming increases family income. Today, West African farmers can increase their cocoa output by 50 percent through modern methods. Doing so will increase school attendance and improve community health.
Hershey has worked with farmers and development organizations for more than 50 years. Most cocoa farmers live on small, isolated family farms. They are eager to improve their farming methods and The Hershey Company is investing in major programs to make them better farmers. Today’s announcement builds on the company’s cocoa expertise and partnerships and will focus on increasing the income of the region’s two million cocoa farmers and ensuring long-term cocoa sustainability for the region and for Hershey’s global product line. More information about Hershey’s cocoa sustainability efforts is available at: www.HersheyCocoaSustainability.com
“Hershey is extending our commitment with new programs to drive long-term change in cocoa villages where families will benefit from our investments in education, health and economic opportunities,” said J.P. Bilbrey, President and CEO, The Hershey Company. “Our global consumers want The Hershey Company to be a leader in responsible business practices and in finding smart ways to benefit cocoa communities. We are excited and humbled by this opportunity to create positive change in West Africa.”
Later this year, U.S. consumers will be able to purchase Hershey’s Bliss® products with 100 percent cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms have met comprehensive sustainability standards that protect the environment and ensure the safety and well-being of workers, their families and communities. Hershey’s Bliss® chocolates are available to U.S. consumers at more than 35,000 retail outlets. In addition, Hershey is working with the Rainforest Alliance to source cocoa from certified farms in Latin America and Africa for Hershey’s premium brand, Dagoba®.
While working with farmers to improve long-standing agricultural practices, Hershey and the Rainforest Alliance will also help them prepare for the future. For example, Hershey and the Rainforest Alliance will collaborate to provide cocoa farmers with training to helping them address global climate change and adapt to its impacts. As part of an overall strategy to eliminate child labor, Rainforest Alliance inspectors will monitor and audit practices on farms supplying certified beans to Hershey, including instances of unsafe or illegal child labor. The Rainforest Alliance will use training programs to reduce child labor and increase school attendance. These programs will be coordinated with industry and government initiatives.
“We support Hershey’s comprehensive approach to sustainability, through educating cocoa farmers on best practices and improving conditions for cocoa farming communities in West Africa,” said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “We are thrilled to be working with Hershey to bring their sustainability commitments to life, from cocoa farms in West Africa to store shelves across North America.”
During the past decade, The Hershey Company and its public and private partners have invested in developing new agricultural practices that are helping West African farmers double the yield on their cocoa farms, which in turn increases their family’s income.
In 2011, Hershey introduced an innovative mobile phone program in Ghana, known as CocoaLink, to reach thousands of farmers with practical messages about growing cocoa and family health. Today, more than two-thirds of cocoa farmers in Ghana are using low-cost mobile phones in their households. CocoaLink is a first of its kind partnership program developed with World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
Based on the success of the company’s CocoaLink mobile phone project in Ghana, Hershey said today it is planning to expand the network into the Ivory Coast. Through CocoaLink, cocoa farmers receive text and voice messages that enable them to improve farming practices, understand issues related to pests and adverse weather conditions, improve labor practices and ask questions of cocoa experts in real time. In the next phase of CocoaLink, Hershey plans to work with the Rainforest Alliance to incorporate important messages about conservation and climate change into the program. Through CocoaLink, Hershey and its partners are committed to reaching 100,000 Ghana cocoa farmers by 2014. The Ivory Coast has approximately 600,000 cocoa farmers and industry data indicates that about half are already using mobile phones.
Introducing HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW Farm Program Improved farming practices directly enhance family, community and education in cocoa villages. For example, supplying farmers with high-yielding seedlings, better planting and pruning practices, organic fertilization and biocontrol of insect pests are all technologies that are embraced in Ghana’s cocoa region. More than 50 percent of farm family income in this region comes from cocoa, so every extra pound of cocoa is extra cash for the family budget.
For these reasons, Hershey and its partners.