EMAILED ON April 5, 2018 BY Wes Schlagenhauf

Hershey wants to clean up the chocolate trade

About 95% of global cocoa output is produced by small farmers — 70% of whom come from West Africa. It’s a precious natural resource for the entire region, and a tremendous part of personal livelihoods.

But make no mistake, from slavery and child trafficking to dire environmental implications like mass deforestation, there’s a very dark side to the chocolate trade — and there’s no milky, creamy center.

But Hershey Co. is spending $500m to try to change that. Through 2030, their Cocoa for Good program will invest in the elimination of child labor, and the increase of shade-grown cocoa, which can be productive for 15 years longer than sun-grown plants. 

The initiative comes after a rough year for producers

World cocoa supplies dwindled from their normal surplus recently following a price hit that limited global farm production and sent fudge ripples through the market.

But at the same time chocolate demand continues to grow. Global retail sales reached $102B in 2017 and are expected to climb 8.2% by 2022.

Which means Hershey better get to work

The program will prioritize Ghanaian growers to meet short-term supply needs before moving to the Ivory Coast (the No. 1 cocoa grower). 

Hershey increased purchasing of certified sustainable cocoa to 75% of total cocoa buying last year and hopes to reach 100% by 2020.