The confectionery giant—maker of iconic sweet treats under brands such as Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s and Jolly Rancher—says its new policy establishes rigorous rules to ensure the sugar it is purchasing has been responsibly grown and harvested.
Under the new policy, Hershey has set out guidelines for both U.S.- and internationally-sourced sugar. For U.S.-sourced sugar, suppliers will be required to complete independent social audits of their refineries and facilities. Additionally, Hershey will conduct annual reviews of its suppliers’ sustainability programs.
For internationally-sourced sugar, the company says it will work with suppliers to incorporate third-party evaluations within their supply chain against Hershey’s Supplier Code of Conduct and industry best practices on sustainability initiatives.
Along with the new sugar policy, the company is partnering with the Sugar Industry Research & Development Institute to expand its Learn to Grow sustainable farming program to sugar suppliers in northern Belize.
The Learn to Grow program was established by Hershey in 2012 as a farmer training program with a goal of improving both the livelihoods of cocoa farmers as well as farm productivity.
As part of the program, about 660 sugar farmers in Belize will receive training in sustainable agricultural practices for responsible growing and harvesting of sugar cane.
“We’ve seen great success from our Learn to Grow program in the cocoa sector and now we have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the sugar industry,” says Eric Boyle, Hershey’s director of responsible sourcing and procurement. “The combination of our new Sustainable Sugar Policy and the new farmer training program will give consumers the assurance that the sugar in our products is responsibly and sustainably grown and harvested.”