No, it’s not a St. Patrick’s Day marketing stunt, but Hershey’s Kisses are going green.
The Hershey Company just announced it will make a $500 million investment in the hopes of making its chocolate Kisses from more sustainable cocoa. Through its new Cocoa For Good program, Hershey plans to target some of the dire problems that cocoa-growing communities face, including hunger, poverty, at-risk youth, and environmental degradation. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.
The investment will go toward efforts to improve child nutrition, increase household income, eliminate child labor, and preserve the natural ecosystems by aiming for zero deforestation in cocoa-growing areas. Hershey hopes it will improve the lives of thousands of farmers in West Africa, where about 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown.
It’s an important step. The dark side of the chocolate trade has been well-documented, including in a 2002 film called The Dark Side of Chocolate, which revealed slavery and child trafficking in the industry. The environmental impact is clear, too. As much as 40% of the world’s cocoa comes from Côte D’Ivoire, where rainforest cover has been reduced by more than 80% since 1960 as cocoa traders reportedly buy cocoa beans grown illegally inside protected areas in the country.
“Cocoa is a tremendous part of the livelihoods for the people of Côte D’Ivoire and public-private partnerships are critical to improving the lives of people living in cocoa communities and protecting our precious natural resources,” H.E. Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice President of the Republic of Côte D’Ivoire, said in a statement.