Hershey releases latest sustainability report focusing on support for its entire supply chains

The US-headquartered Hershey Company has released its 2019 Sustainability Report, revealing progress on key areas including its responsible cocoa sourcing scheme and supply chain improvements to support African producing nations. Neill Barston reports

Following its 125th anniversary last year, the major confectionery manufacturer, which employs a total of 16,000 internationally, explained that its report reflects its focus on transparency throughout its global operations. Furthermore, the study also showcases progress on other major areas including climate change and human rights, which are all issues that have taken centre stage within the cocoa sector serving the confectionery industry.

According to the business, its Shared Goodness Promise continues to be a key driver in its sustainability strategy—with a focus on business, planet, communities and youth. In 2019, Hershey made significant progress in these key focus areas, including commitments to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) to set a science-based carbon reduction goal; and a push to resolve some of the most pressing issues in its cocoa supply chain such as child labour.

Confectionery Production interviewed the business at last year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo held in Chicago, with major celebrations for the business for its key anniversary, which also combined with its drive to further improve on its sustainability goals.

“As we celebrated our 125th anniversary, we succeeded in honouring our founder by addressing key challenges facing our communities and our consumers, from 100% certified sustainable cocoa to addressing human rights across our entire value chain,” said Michele Buck, Chairman, President and CEO of The Hershey Company. “Today, as we collectively face an unprecedented time, our purpose is more important than ever—and we will continue our commitment to create more moments of goodness for all.”

Notable milestones highlighted in the report include:

Investing in a More Sustainable Supply Chain: Hershey is committed to ensuring the ingredients and raw materials it purchases are responsibly sourced. It has established programs and policies to positively contribute to the sustainability and livelihoods of the communities it depends on to source its ingredients for its products while ​taking the necessary steps to safeguard human rights and protect the people and ecosystems behind the ingredients that make Hershey’s iconic products. In early 2019, Hershey published its first Human Rights Policy, after conducting an in-depth assessment of the company’s most salient human rights issues.

Today, Hershey integrates human rights training into the new employee orientation process and makes it a requirement for all global procurement professionals. Additionally, Hershey is well on-track to meet several 2020 responsible sourcing commitments and has already achieved its goals to source 100% certified and sustainable cocoa (a goal Hershey has achieved in early 2020), 100% RSPO-certified mass balance palm oil, and 100% third-party certified sustainable virgin fiber pulp and paper products in the U.S. and Canada.

Eliminating Child Labour Within Cocoa Communities: Hershey does not tolerate child labor within its supply chain and is working to eliminate it from occurring within cocoa communities. Hershey recognises child labor as a symptom of poverty and has developed a comprehensive strategy called Cocoa For Good, which seeks to disrupt the cycle of poverty while also addressing its many symptoms head-on. Under Cocoa For Good, Hershey has adopted the industry-leading Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) to detect, report and remediate any cases of child labor within its supply chain.

In addition, the company more than doubled its CLMRS coverage from 2018 to 2019, and has since committed to expanding CLMRS to 100% of its cocoa sourcing in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, its highest risk sourcing areas. Hershey has also trained more than 29,700 farmers and 330 supplier personnel on child labor issues to help build community-level capacity to combat the issue. To date, Hershey’s CLMRS work has found zero instances of forced labor within the segment of the Hershey cocoa supply chain assessed.

Supporting Cocoa Communities: Hershey’s Cocoa For Good works to increase the profitability of cocoa farming as well as diversify household incomes, educate families on the power of savings, foster women’s leadership and improve the quality of education to disrupt the cycle of poverty in cocoa growing communities. In 2019, the company directly supported 51,009 farmers (12% female) in improving the quality and yield of cocoa and 21,194 farmers (16% female) in crop diversification; trained 12,952 farmers in business skills; facilitated 6,771 individuals’ (83% female) access to savings and loans from Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs); and helped institute quality education interventions that benefited 84,284 primary school children. Hershey also promotes proper nutrition and school feeding programs to Energize Learning. Since 2015, Hershey has distributed ViVi – a peanut-based, fortified snack – to school children in Ghana daily. Between 2014 and 2019, the company produced more than 56 million sachets of ViVi and distributed it to more than 265,000 children in Ghana. In 2019, 100% of peanuts used in ViVi were locally sourced and roasted, benefiting local farmers.

Reducing company Environmental Impact: Hershey is committed to preserving ecosystems, reducing its impact on the climate and conserving natural resources. In 2019, the company launched its first enterprise-wide environmental policy. To date, the company has reduced 23.6 million pounds of packaging since 2015 and reduced its greenhouse gas intensity of products by 13% since 2015. In 2019, Hershey committed to the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) to set a science-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions goal by 2021. The company is on track to announce that target in early 2021 and in the meantime continues to pursue its 25 by 25 commitments set in 2015 to reduce water usage, waste and emissions by 25% by 2025.

Championing Diversity and Inclusion and Building Careers: Hershey is committed to creating a workplace that reflects the society that it serves and strengthening a culture where people can build their careers. Six out of nine Hershey executive committee members have built their careers at Hershey. In 2019, Hershey ranked 25th on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity List. The company also has nearly closed the gender pay gap with women earning $0.99 for every $1 that men earned compared to an average of about $0.82 across the United States. Women also made up 45 percent of professional U.S. experienced hires and 53 percent of campus hires in 2019. Twenty-five percent of the major Hershey retail accounts are led by women in the United States. In addition, the company’s ethnic diversity continues to grow with people of color representing 31% of U.S. hires in 2019.

Helping Kids Build Meaningful Connections: The Hershey Company has remained committed to Milton Hershey’s legacy of helping children succeed and reach their full potential. In 2019, the company introduced the Heartwarming Project Action Grants program, which provide microgrants to teens to advance connection, empathy and inclusion in their own schools and communities. More than 500 teens and school groups across the U.S. applied and nearly 300 received a $250 microgrant to advance their project. Through Hershey’s Heartwarming Project, more than 775,000 youth have benefited and over 12,400 youth have taken part in Heartwarming actions to improve their communities.
For more information on Hershey’s Shared Goodness Promise, read our 2019 Sustainability Report. This is Hershey’s second sustainability report prepared in accordance with the GRI Standards: Comprehensive option. Accompanying the main report, Hershey, as part of its initiatives to increase transparency, has also provided a Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) index and UN Sustainable Development Goals footprint.

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