A Chocolate Lover’s Sustainable Progress; Hershey’s Mexico Cocoa Project

June 28, 2012

One of America’s most inspirational examples of industrialization, design, community and sustainability lies in the history and progress of one of many people’s favorite dish, chocolate. Not just any chocolate, but Hershey’s and the Hershey Company.

The Hershey Company has been around for more than 100 years and has always been a leader in making a positive difference in communities. One example of a positive community difference that founder, Milton Hershey and his wife Catherine, made was the opening of the Milton Hershey School (MHS) in 1909 which was dedicated to helping boys of less fortunate means. Today, the Hershey Trust Company is the largest shareholder, after Milton donated his personal fortune, making the school the largest beneficiary of the Hershey Company and it is now a coeducational home and school. The school provides a free world-class education, as well as meals, clothing, a nurturing home, health care, counseling and career training, to nearly 2,000 children in social and financial need. The employees of the Hershey Company remain aware that MHS students depend on the company’s continued success.

The success of the company is shown through its employment of approximately 14,000 people, is the largest producer of quality chocolate in North America, has operations throughout the world and is a global leader in chocolate and sugar confectionary goods.

“Corporate Social Responsibility is an integral part of the company’s global business strategy, which includes goals and priorities focused on fair and ethical business dealings, environmental stewardship, fostering a desirable workplace for employees, and positively impacting society and local communities.”

The community is not all that Milton Hershey set out to make a difference with his company in. He also was dedicated to minimizing the company’s environmental impact while maintaining high quality standards.

“We believe that it’s our duty to take an active role in the business of building a better world.”

Today the company remains dedicated to its local and global environmental efforts by continuing to minimize its environmental impact while meeting functional requirements through product design, sustainable sourcing and efficient business operations. It has incorporated a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program with emphasis in four categories:

  • Marketplace
  • Environment
  • Workplace
  • Community

Currently the Hershey Company has partnered with cocoa supplier Agroindustrias Unidas de Cacao SA de CV (AMCO), a member of Ecom Cocoa Group, to continue the implementation of Hershey’s sustainable programs around the world.

“Today we are very proud to initiate this project that will improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers in Mexico by providing them methods and better processes that will enable them to increase productivity of their farms, resulting in higher yields and family incomes,” said Jorge Eduardo Pena, Vice President and General Manager, Hershey Mexico.

Ecom Cocoa Group is the largest merchant of coffee, cotton and cocoa globally and is the leader in sustainable agriculture and traceable supply chain management.

With this partnership of AMCO-Ecom and Hershey a 10-year, $2.8 million initiative to reintroduce cocoa growing in southern Mexico is implemented. It is called the Mexico Cocoa Project.

“We have been active in the improvement of farms in Mexico in coffee through the provision of new hybrid varieties, and now, we are very excited at the opportunity to expand the activity to assist Mexican cocoa farmers. We are very happy to have Hershey as our partner in this ambitious project to revitalize cocoa farming,” said Tonathiu Acevedo, Director of AMCO.

This project will restore the cocoa farming industry, will improve more than 1000 farmers and their families’ short term economic status and grow to improve more in the future.

The Hershey Company and AMCO will provide the training in farm renovation and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the Mexico Cocoa Project will begin with them distributing disease-tolerant cocoa trees to renew 1000 hectares of farmland. The program addresses ongoing concerns of the cocoa industry and will support the long-term sustainability of the world’s cocoa supply while contributing to cocoa sustainability for Mexico. It will also work with government agencies in Mexico and a local NGO.

The Hershey Company is a solid example of what businesses, whether old or new, can do to help the environment and the local and global communities in which it operates. Strong partnerships are necessary in global development and with the backing of AMCO and Ecom there is no stopping this company’s sustainable success in Mexico.

This is just one more reason, if you need one, to love chocolate.

Resources: The Hershey Company and Business Wire



Jennifer Shockley

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and has recently moved back from Michigan. She is finishing up her Master’s degree in Architecture. She is currently focusing on urban planning and sustainable design and hopes to gain employment at a design firm specializing in these areas. Jennifer also has writing experience serving as an editor for her school newspaper and college magazine. Jennifer has two cats named Prada and Dior-aptly named after her shoe obsession. You can follow Jennifer on twitter @jenshock81.