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Hershey’s Chocolate Becomes a Little Greener
By Michael Schweibinz

The Hershey Company has committed to source 100% certified cocoa by 2020. First Affirmative applauds this world famous chocolate producer for exceeding their first year goal. The company’s 21st Century Cocoa Sustainability Strategy called for 10% certification by 2013; but actual results were significantly better, with 18% of Hershey cocoa certified sustainable last year.

What exactly does “certified cocoa” mean? Certified cocoa meets “comprehensive sustainability standards meant to protect children, workers, communities and the environment.” Hershey is able to use third-party certifiers like Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and UTZ Certified to ensure that its cocoa is farmed sustainably and without the use of forced child labor.

Hershey is demonstrating its commitment to corporate social responsibility by not only focusing on consumers who enjoy their extensive product line, but also on cocoa farmers. Over the next five years, Hershey will invest $10 million in West Africa, where 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown. This investment will improve the lives of cocoa farmers and improve sustainability and efficiency through programs like CocoaLink and Learn to Grow.

According the The Wall Street Journal, Hershey’s sustainability strategy “seeks to modernize cocoa farming for the two million farmers across West Africa with a particular focus on education. As a founding member of the World Cocoa Foundation, (WCF), Hershey's cocoa strategy is part of broader cocoa-industry efforts to improve family livelihoods and communities across the cocoa-growing sector worldwide.”

As Hershey’s chocolate business becomes a little greener, it’s likely to attract new consumers and investors. As the company moves closer and closer to 100% certified cocoa, the positive press related to these efforts is likely to grow. And given the 43% share that Hershey currently holds in the U.S. chocolate market, their predominance may motivate competitors to play catch up—or to leap-frog over Hershey with even higher sustainability standards.

 

 

At First Affirmative, we understand that the ways we save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society. We believe that in addition to the benefits of ownership, investors bear responsibility for the impact our money has in the world. Are you making conscious decisions about the impact of your consumer purchase and investment decisions?

Mention of specific companies or securities should not be considered an endorsement or a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

 

 

Posted: March 24, 2014