AS NOTED BY FORTUNE, GLOBAL APPETITES for chocolate drove $102 billion in spending in 2017, and there’s no satiation in sight. The challenge? Ninety-five percent of the world’s cocoa is produced by small farmers, who often lack the tools and training to encourage sustainable growth. Coupled with deforestation across high-volume cocoa-producing countries like Côte d’Ivoire, and an increasingly volatile market, long-term corporate support for sustainable cocoa is now critical.
Global chocolate producer Hershey’s is tackling this cocoa conundrum with its “Cocoa for Good” initiative—a $500 million pledge over the next 12 years to improve sustainability.
According to the World Cocoa Foundation, traditional cocoa farmers often lack both knowledge of modern farming techniques and the finances necessary to purchase new equipment. Even worse, 30–40 percent of crops across all major growing regions are lost each year to pests. The Hershey’s initiative includes a focus on boosting total household incomes in addition to increasing the amount of shade-grown cocoa—which offers up to 15 more years of productivity than plants grown in full sun. Hershey’s also recognizes that farming techniques and technology are only part of the story. Their program will also emphasize investment in various educational, environmental, and community-building initiatives.