The folks at The Hershey Company are taking a step in the right direction with their announcement today that they are expanding their cocoa programs. The company announced that they will be working with The Rainforest Alliance, who is one of Mars Chocolate’s certifying partners as well.
Why is this news important? Because it means that more farmers will benefit from certification, which will improve the productivity and quality of their cocoa, as well as the quality of life and income for their families. There are between 5 to 6 million cocoa farmers worldwide and putting them and their families first is necessary for the future of cocoa and the chocolate industry. Yet reaching that many farmers to make sure that they are following the best practices and receiving the kind of training that will make their farms more productive is impossible for any one company to do. Certification allows Mars and others to credibly verify through a third party that the cocoa bought is produced in a way that increases yields and income for farmers while protecting the environment and promoting social development.
The more cocoa that we know is certified, the more that everyone within the chocolate industry – from growers to grinders to manufacturers – benefits. As an industry, we must make farmers’ lives and well-being a higher priority over competitive advantage. That is why Mars Chocolate is working with The Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Good Inside, and Fairtrade International to implement a comprehensive certification program in Cote d’Ivoire and elsewhere. We are pleased to see that other chocolate manufacturers are following suit.