SEATTLE, Washington — In 2010, The Hershey Co. launched the Cocoa for Good strategy, which aimed to build more sustainable cocoa communities and empower youth in West Africa. West Africa is estimated to be the source of the majority of the world’s chocolate supply by 2030. Hershey’s Cocoa for Good strategy hopes to ensure that cocoa farmers reach gender equality and eliminate child labor.
Hershey’s Cocoa for Good Goals
Hershey’s Cocoa for Good sustainability strategy aims to eliminate child labor, which is a symptom of poverty, and improve education systems to raise children to be world leaders. It is also working to economically empower women and foster successful communities through a 10-year half-billion-dollar investment. The company believes it has an ethical and social responsibility to its cocoa-producing communities. Hershey is taking a systematic approach through its Cocoa for Good strategy to address pressing issues, including poverty, lack of education and climate change.
Female West African cocoa laborers often lack economic opportunities and resources in comparison to their male counterparts. In order to address the economic disparities that female workers in the cocoa industry face, Hershey expanded its outreach to more communities and trained farmer organizations on gender sensitivity. This training helped increase female community-leadership representation to 41 percent.
Poverty, Hunger and Child Labor
According to the World Hunger Education Service, approximately 20 percent of Africa’s population is undernourished in 2016. WHES reports, “Children exposed to long-term undernutrition are often stunted, leading to long-term consequences including decreased labor productivity and income-earning potential.” These health consequences keep the population in poverty.
Under poor economic conditions in West Africa, some cocoa farmers have removed children from schools and illegally employed them in child labor. Stunting is just one hazard of child labor. Children are often forced to perform dangerous tasks such as carrying heavy loads, working with chemicals or bush burning. Thus, the cycle of poverty-induced child labor and hunger repeats.
Hershey’s Efforts to Eliminate Child Labor
In 2018, Hershey introduced the Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) to identify and remediate cases of child labor and raise awareness about the issue in cocoa communities. Along with its partner, International Cocoa Initiative, it has formed Community Child Protection Services and provided training to identify illegal child labor. CLMRS also offers aid to families in need through subsidizing schools fees and providing them with activities that help them to gain incomes.
To encourage children to obtain a quality education, Hershey and its partnerships have continued to provide funding and resources to help build two schools in Cote d’Ivoire. They have trained school management committees as well as 4,678 people in cocoa communities on health and nutrition. Hershey has successfully enrolled more than 80 thousand children into quality-education primary schools. It trained 305 youths in life skills and financial education to empower them to pursue business-leadership careers.
In its Sustainability Report, Hershey additionally wrote, “Supporting our cocoa communities is more than an investment—it’s about enabling lasting and systemic change. Hershey aims to enable people and strengthen businesses and infrastructure to support sustainable livelihoods for farmers, families and communities.” This is the goal of Hershey’s Cocoa for Good strategy.
– Angie Leung