Hershey’s Sweet Strategy: ‘Shared Goodness’ Appeals to Investors, Consumers

by | Jun 6, 2018

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The Hershey Company announced a new CSR strategy in conjunction with its 2017 social responsibility report – the Shared Goodness Promise is the company’s plan to “make a positive difference” in people’s lives through investments, collaborative programs, and sustainable business practices. The strategy will also help the company meet the demands of consumers and investors, according to the report.

The company says that, by creating a new strategy, it will have a framework for deciding where to focus its resources in the future.

For example, the company plans to focus on investing in brands that include responsibly-sourced ingredients. The company says that, already, 75% of the cocoa and 50% of the coconut it sources is certified as sustainable.

Hershey is also encouraging its suppliers to adopt sustainable growing techniques. In 2017, the company began focusing on reforestation, including a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant more than 133,000 trees in the US. And last month, Hershey announced a $500 million investment on a strategy called Cocoa for Good, which the company says will ensure a sustainable supply of cocoa for generations to come.

There’s a strong business case for Hershey, as a snacking company, to invest in the sustainability of its cocoa supply, said Jeff King, senior director of sustainability, CSR and social innovation. “The return on that investment is not only ensuring that a core ingredient of our snacks is sustainably grown and abundant for generations, but we are also able to deliver on one of our founding principles as a company: to bring about positive societal change and make life better for the communities where we operate,” he told Environmental Leader. “That’s what Cocoa for Good is all about. It’s doing what makes sense for our business, and what is needed to help safeguard the health, well-being and success of people in cocoa-growing communities.”


Fiercely Competitive and Also Good

“[We] believe – and prove – that you can be a fierce competitor in the market while operating in a compassionate way…,” says Michele Buck, Hershey’s CEO. With the Shared Goodness Promise, the company pledges to be successful in a way that makes a positive difference.

Continual striving for improved sustainability does not stem simply from a desire to be a good corporate citizen, however. Like other organizations, Hershey recognizes that investor expectations are changing, with “many looking for companies to use their operations as a force for good,” the company says in its report. And consumer preferences are changing in significant ways, as well. They are not only demanding healthier snacks – they’re becoming increasingly sophisticated in their sustainability knowledge, asking for more transparent supply chains and products with more responsibly sourced ingredients. In response, Hershey is reimagining some of its core snacks while also working owards more sustainably sourced ingredients – including cocoa, palm oil, sugar and coconut – and giving consumers more information through QR codes on packaging


A Difficult Road

Climate change poses a continual and increasing threat to Hershey’s core agricultural commodities and the communities in which it works. To help mitigate this, the company signed the Cocoa & Forests Initiative and partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to stem deforestation.

But while the company says it has made positive progress towards its 25 by 25 goals, it is also looking into revising its environmental strategy over the course of 2018 in order to use the best available science and evidence to develop targets with relevant impact.

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