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Hershey Closing in on 2020 Sustainable Cocoa Pledge Despite Challenges in West Africa

By Dave Armon

It’s been a while since we have snacked on new corporate responsibility initiatives from Hershey.

The 120-year-old maker of Reese’s peanut butter cups and Hershey’s Kisses vowed earlier this decade to make its confections with only certified sustainable cocoa by 2020.

At that time, Hershey also set bold diversity and inclusion goals, among other environmental, responsible sourcing, social and governance targets.

With just two years until Hershey’s self-imposed deadline, we asked the company’s senior director of Sustainability, CSR, and Social Innovation, Jeff King, for an update during the Sustainable Brands conference in Vancouver.



“It’s always a challenge when you’re working on cocoa in West Africa,” said King, referencing the challenges in sourcing cocoa without contributing to tropical forest loss, among other complex social and environmental concerns.


Our video interview with King references a pilot project with USAID and Winrock International aimed at tackling land rights issues while educating farmers on sustainable farming methods in Ghana, the world’s second largest producer of cocoa.

Hershey has confirmed 75 percent of cocoa in its supply chain was certified sustainable in 2017 and, in the area of corporate governance, half of its executive committee are women.

A good starting point to review Hershey’s corporate responsibility journey is this 3BL Media profile.  The company’s 2017 progress report, dubbed “This is Shared Goodness,” was released this week.

Image credit: Hershey

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Dave Armon is the Chief Executive Officer of 3BL Media, which produces the 3BL Forum and ranks the 100 Best Corporate Citizens. A former journalist, Dave spent 20 years in management at PR Newswire, where he was president and COO.  

Read more stories by Dave Armon