- The Hershey Company has committed to joining an initiative to prevent further deforestation in its global cocoa supply chain, its news center reported last week. The effort aims to protect forests in the regions where the company routinely sources its cocoa.
- The initiative has two vital components: no new deforestation for cocoa by avoiding regions where deforestation has already occurred, and the immediate deployment of agroforestry to support shade-grown cocoa through new tree planting programs.
- Hershey is also working with the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) through its Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI), a cocoa industry undertaking that aims to protect and restore forests, support sustainable cocoa production, and improve the conditions and livelihoods of farmers who work to grow cocoa sustainably.
Deforestation caused by aggressive farming practices can lead to long-term shortages and unsustainable food and supply chains.
Increasingly, consumers are seeking transparency from their food purchases, with deforestation a growing concern. The world's chocolate makers — Callebaut, Blommer, Cargill, Cemoi, Ecom, Ferrero, Hershey, Mars, Mondelez, Nestle, Olam and Touton — are all participating in the CFI initiative, with Mondelez in particular partnering with the country of Ghana to improve conditions for farmers and reduce emissions in the country's cocoa supply chain.
The food supply chain is a particularly vulnerable one, with some of the most demanding consumers continually questioning its sources.
While palm oil, in addition to cocoa sourcing, is currently in the spotlight, efforts to repair the environmental damage wreaked upon the native forests of supplier countries such as Ghana must involve the farmers as well. Ensuring their ability to support themselves and their families while at the same time preventing encroachment on remaining forests makes this endeavor more complex.
As a result, it could be that consumers and companies alike see higher prices as the farmers and producers involved work to establish a successful compromise, but the certainty of a sounder, more ethically sourced supply chain is likely worth the cost.