Why Hershey is threatening to drop suppliers

Chocolate maker Hershey has threatened to “suspend or remove” suppliers that fail to comply with its code to eliminate deforestation in its supply chains.

The firm outlined its ‘No Deforestation Policy’ as part of efforts to end deforestation across its supply chain by 2030.

The policy includes requirements for direct and indirect suppliers for commodities such as cocoa, palm oil, pulp, paper and soy, which it said presented the “greatest risk of contributing to deforestation”. 

Hershey said past efforts had addressed deforestation on a “commodity-by-commodity basis”, but it would now take a “holistic view” of all of its agricultural supply chains.

Under the policy, suppliers will be required to publish the policies and procedures they use to help prevent deforestation, peatland loss, and potential human rights violations. They must also protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities to give or withhold their consent to development on their lands.

“Suppliers must meet and communicate these requirements throughout their supply chains at a corporate group level to ensure compliance by direct and indirect suppliers and raw material producers,” Hershey said. 

Suppliers must also establish environmental monitoring and human rights due diligence systems, non-compliance and grievance procedures. They must create “credible” independent verification systems and training programmes within their own operations, third party suppliers, and raw material producers, Hershey said. 

“If a supplier is not compliant with our No Deforestation Policy in any of their operations at a corporate group level, we reserve the right to suspend or remove the supplier,” it said. 

The firm also set out goals to reduce scope one and two greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40% by 2024 and to make 100% of its plastic packaging “recyclable, reusable or compostable” by 2030.

Michele Buck, CEO and president at The Hershey Company, said: “Climate change is one of the most urgent threats to our planet that we face today. In order to deliver on our purpose to make more moments of goodness, we must operate with sustainability at the forefront and commit to doing our part to address climate change.

“We will continue to use our scale and apply the full force of our business to reduce our greenhouse emissions and drive climate action forward.”

Last year, Hershey pledged to train all its buyers on human rights issues by 2021, stating child labour, forced labour, deforestation, women’s rights, and living wage were among the “most pressing human rights issues across our value chain”.

In February, Hershey was one of the chocolate makers named in a lawsuit over child labour in Cote D’Ivoire. 

The human rights group, International Rights Advocates, said Hershey and other chocolate makers including Nestlé, Cargill, Mars, Mondelez, Barry Callebaut, and Olam would use child labour “until they are forced to stop”.

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