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If not Mondelez, then who?

September 10th, 2016
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Speculation continues after snack and confectionery giant formally withdraws offer to acquire the Hershey Co..

I’m a big fan of punny headlines, but occasionally I do throw in a teaser headline. So, here’s a spoiler alert — I really don’t know who is contemplating acquiring The Hershey Co. or, even more to the point, whether it ever will be acquired. But all of us love speculating about the future and projecting various scenarios. In this instance, I’d like to share some history along with the speculation.

Earlier this week, Mondelez International’s Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld officially announced that it will no longer pursue discussions with Hershey since “there is no actionable path forward toward an agreement… Our proposal to acquire Hershey reflected our conviction that combining our two iconic American companies would create an industry leader with global scale in snacking and confectionery and a strong portfolio of complementary brands.”

That, however, doesn’t mean Mondelez is done looking. As she added, “While we are disappointed in this outcome, we remain disciplined in our approach to creating value, including through acquisitions, and confident that our advantaged platform positions us well for top-tier performance over the long term.”

As those of us who have seen this scenario before can attest, it’s not easy to purchase a company that’s owned by a trust, particularly by a trust that actually controls the company.

The Hershey Trust Co., which was established by Milton Hershey in 1909, became the funding mechanism for the orphanage that Milton and Catherine Hershey founded that same year. The Milton Hershey School, as it’s known today, provides free schooling for needy boys and girls from kindergarten through high school.

Keep in mind that the board members of the Trust own 81 percent of the voting power behind The Hershey Co. Naturally, it’s the Hershey Co. that’s the revenue generator for the Trust. But being owned by a Trust doesn’t necessarily preclude a sale of The Hershey Co.

Those with a good memory can recall that it was the Trust that put The Hershey Co. on the block in 2002, citing a need to diversify its holding to ensure long-term financial stability, only to back off at the last minute after Wrigley outbid Cadbury Schweppes and Nestlé with a $12.5-billion bid.

The decision to walk away stemmed — in part — from a tremendous backlash from the local community as well as a temporary injunction from Pennsylvania’s attorney general in Daphne County Orphans court.

That episode, however, didn’t put an end to the Hershey For Sale saga. Given its command of the U.S. chocolate market, Hershey has always been a tempting target. When Cadbury revisited the scene in 2007, looking to merge with the company, the Trust put the kibosh on a potential deal, prompting an exasperated Rick Lenny, chairman and ceo at the time, to resign. Ironically, Cadbury was gobbled up by Kraft slightly more than two years later.

And that brings us to Mondelez today, which reportedly offered $25 billion for America’s chocolate leader. The Trust’s board rejected that offer. However, five of those members will be leaving, three by year’s end and two by 2017, thanks to — oh wait, doesn’t this sound familiar — a settlement following an investigation by Pennsylvania’s attorney general.

Based on Rosenfeld’s statement, Mondelez will continue to pursue other companies. Although companies such as Lotte and Ferrero have been mentioned by some as potential candidates, I realistically don’t see either being in the mix since I believe those two also want to be buyers. Besides, how big is too big?

But back to Hershey: I’m a bit on the fence on this one. In 2002, I wrote an editorial regarding the possible sale of the chocolate maker entitled, “What would Milton do?” Back then, I believed that Hershey should not be sold. Yes, the Trust having voting control remained an issue, but there were too many arguments to keep the status quo intact: heritage, local economy, jobs, management, etc.

Today, I admit, I initially waffled a bit, given the global economics involved. Nonetheless, I’m still not a fan of mega-mergers and acquisitions. Those so-called synergies typically lead to consolidation, corporate culture wars and consumer callousness. So what would Milton do? I think he’d keep the company independent and continue to make acquisitions. And he’d change either the voting clout of the Trust and/or its membership. And then he’d focus on making the best and most affordable chocolates and candies.

Source: Candy Industry

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Hershey Rejects Mondelez’s $23 Billion Takeover Offer

July 16th, 2016
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For more than a century, Hershey — an American candy icon so well known it gave its name to its Pennsylvania hometown — has stood independent, rebuffing numerous attempts to buy the maker of Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Now, it faces one of its biggest challenges yet, in the form of a fellow chocolate giant eager to strike a big takeover deal.

In rebuffing a $23 billion offer from Mondelez International, whose own products run from Oreo cookies to Cadbury chocolate, Hershey is betting that it can stay on its own, or at least fetch a substantially higher price.

But flatly rejecting Mondelez’s offer will be a major test of Hershey’s historically impregnable defense: the charitable trust that effectively wields control.

The offer, made in a letter on June 23 after months of on-and-off discussions between the two companies, would make a blockbuster merger in a year that has been sorely lacking in hugely prominent deals. Moreover, it is a bold move by Mondelez at a time when other would-be deal makers have grown more cautious in the face of uncertain winds in the marketplace and the economy.

Mondelez’s move has also raised questions about whether other food companies will seek to make their own run at Hershey — or whether Mondelez itself may be put into play. After the activist investor William A. Ackman took a big stake in Mondelez nearly a year ago, speculation emerged that he would push for a sale, possibly to Kraft Heinz.

Mondelez, cleaved from what once was Kraft, has offered $107 a share in cash and stock, a 10 percent premium to Hershey’s closing stock price on Wednesday. Hershey, however, said on Thursday that its board had “rejected the indication of interest and determined that it provided no basis for further discussion between Mondelez and the company.”

Mondelez declined to comment.

Hershey would represent the biggest takeover by Mondelez since its former parent bought Cadbury of Britain in a $19 billion deal more than six years ago. That transaction, too, took time, and Cadbury initially rebuffed the American food behemoth’s advances.

Pursuing Hershey is a different matter. A trust holds about 8.4 percent of the candy maker’s shares, but has about 81 percent of the company’s voting power. The shares of the company — both the common and the special Class B shares — are owned by the Milton Hershey School Trust, but are voted on by the Hershey Trust. The Milton Hershey School was founded in 1909 for underprivileged children by the company’s founder and his wife.

The trust has flexed its muscle several times over in the last two decades. When the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company wanted to buy Hershey at a 42 percent premium in 2002, the trust called off the sale at the last minute.

When the trust became unhappy with Hershey’s performance and deal talks with Cadbury in 2007, it asked for the resignation of six directors.

And when Hershey wanted to challenge Kraft for Cadbury in 2010, a rift between the company and the trust forced the Pennsylvania chocolatier to bow out.

Source: nytimes.com

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Hershey (HSY) Set to Announce Earnings

August 7th, 2015
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Hershey (NYSE:HSY) will post its Q215 quarterly earnings results on Friday, August 7th. Analysts expect Hershey to post earnings of $0.75 per share and revenue of $1.62 billion for the quarter. Individual that wish to register for the company’s earnings conference call can do so using this link.

Shares of Hershey (NYSE:HSY) opened at 92.66 on Thursday. The firm has a 50 day moving average price of $90.84 and a 200-day moving average price of $97.28. The company has a market cap of $20.30 billion and a P/E ratio of 24.66. Hershey has a 12 month low of $87.79 and a 12 month high of $111.35.

Several brokerages have recently issued reports on HSY. Wells Fargo & Co. lowered shares of Hershey from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a research note on Wednesday. Nomura cut their price target on shares of Hershey from $87.00 to $85.00 and set a “reduce” rating for the company in a report on Monday, July 20th. Zacks raised shares of Hershey from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, July 10th. Societe Generale began coverage on shares of Hershey in a research note on Thursday, July 2nd. They issued a “sell” rating and a $86.00 price target for the company. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. decreased their price objective on shares of Hershey from $102.00 to $90.00 and set a “neutral” rating on the stock in a research report on Tuesday, June 23rd. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and one has issued a buy rating to the stock. Hershey has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $96.44.

In other news, SVP D Michael Wege sold 1,220 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, July 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $91.00, for a total value of $111,020.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link.

The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY) is a provider of chocolate and sugar confectionery. The Company’s main confectionery offerings comprise gum and sugar confectionery products; pantry items, such as baking ingredients, toppings and beverages; bite items, such as spreads, and chocolate and mint refreshment products. The Business operates through two segments: International and North America and Other. The North America segment accounts for its chocolate and sugar confectionery business in the United States and Canada. The International as well as Other segment comprises all other nations where the Company makes, imports, distributes or markets, sells other products, sugar confectionery as well as chocolate. This consists of businesses in Asia, Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as well as exports to these areas. This segment also contains its international retail businesses, including Hershey’s Chocolate World shops.

Source: dakotafinancialnews.com

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Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction

June 13th, 2015
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This summer, guests can explore the many wonders of chocolate like never before at Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction in Hershey, Pa.

Chocolate enthusiasts will be treated to a delicious new Chocolate Tasting Experience, find their favorites in the revamped Hershey’s Largest Candy Store, and mix their favorites at the new Amazing Candy Machine.

Check out the video down below!

Chocolate Tasting Experience

Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction has redefined the art of chocolate tasting! In this new, digitally enhanced attraction, guests can immerse themselves in the flavorful world of chocolate tasting.

Filled with the sights, sounds and smells of chocolate, a Hershey tasting expert shows guests how to engage all senses to taste chocolates — from smooth milk to decadent dark and varieties in between.

Using electronic tablets at their tasting tables, guests will be able to vote and see in real time what flavor nodes other guests are experiencing during each chocolate sample.

Guests of all ages will enjoy honing their chocolate tasting skills in this new attraction. Tickets are available inside at the Central Ticketing box office or discounted online at HersheysChocolateWorld.com.

The Amazing Candy Machine

Guests can now customize their perfect mix of Hershey’s candy at The Amazing Candy Machine.

With 15 sweet selections to choose from, guests can mix-and-match different candy to fill their containers with their Hershey’s favorites  to create their very own amazing assortment.

Hershey’s Largest Candy Store

The Hershey’s Largest Candy Store has transformed into a vibrant and contemporary shopping experience as the leading destination for all Hershey candy.

Hershey’s, Reese’s and Hershey’s Kisses brands have been highlighted with their own unique sections featuring these three iconic brands from The Hershey Co.

Exclusive products for Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction also will be featured, such as the world’s largest Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar and world’s largestReese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction is the premier, year-round family fun destination in Hershey, Pa. As the flagship experience for The Hershey Co. it is the most visited corporate visitor experience in the world, featuring Hershey’s Chocolate Tour, Create Your Own Candy Bar,Chocolate Tasting Experience, 4D Chocolate Mystery and the World’s Largest Hershey’s Candy Store.

Source: Candy Industry

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Hershey reports on first phase of palm oil tracing

May 1st, 2015
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Initial mapping effort first step in validating responsible palm oil sources.

And yet in another Earth Day-related announcement, The Hershey Co. announced yesterday that it, together with The Forest Trust (TFT), has traced its supply chain to more than 94 percent of all the mills that supply its palm and palm kernel oil globally.

As a result, the supply mapping has given the company insight into its palm oil sources from suppliers originating back to the mill level. This information will help the company better understand if any sourcing is linked to areas of potential deforestation or social challenges within the production of its palm oil. While Hershey completes its mill-level mapping, the company has begun the next phase of work – mapping its palm oil supply chain back to the plantation level – which it expects to complete in 2016.

Highlights from the palm oil tracing campaign include:

  • More than 1,200 mills supply palm oil to Hershey manufacturing facilities worldwide
  • Mills are located in two regions; Southeast Asia (1,235 mills) and Central America (11 mills)
  • Palm oil is used in 13 Hershey plants located in three countries: The United States (9 plants), Mexico (2 plants) and China (2 plants)

Tracing Hershey’s palm oil supply is part of a commitment the company made in 2014 to source responsible, traceable palm oil. As part of this commitment, Hershey implemented a new, comprehensive palm oil sourcing policy for all of its palm suppliers.

“This first phase of mapping is critical to meeting our high standards for ethical palm oil sourcing,” says Frank Day, Hershey’s v.p. of global. “We will use this information to work with our suppliers to meet our rigorous new policy requirements and Hershey’s Supplier Code of Conduct. Should issues arise in our palm oil supply chain through this process, we will work quickly to remediate them.”

The mapping work is helping to clarify the level of cooperation needed from palm oil suppliers for Hershey to achieve its responsible sourcing goals. Hershey is working with TFT, a respected global non-profit organization that works with companies to help transform the way they source their products.

The Hershey Co.’s updated responsible palm oil sourcing policy is available on the company’s website.

Source: Candy Industry

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Hershey unveils world’s first public 3-D chocolate candy printing exhibit

January 3rd, 2015
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hershey-new-logosThe Hershey Co. is moving beyond the second dimension. The chocolate maker has partnered with 3D Systems to create what it claims is the world’s first 3-D Chocolate Candy Printing exhibit at Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction.

The exhibit, slated to open Friday, Dec. 19, will give visitors the opportunity to interact with Hershey scientists and the breakthrough technology.

“We are now using 3-D technology to bring Hershey goodness to consumers in unanticipated and exciting ways,” says Will Papa, chief research and development officer, The Hershey Co. “3-D printing gives consumers nearly endless possibilities for personalizing their chocolate, and our exhibit will be their first chance to see 3-D chocolate candy printing in action.”

Visitors will have the opportunity to witness live 3-D printing, see examples of finished products, interact with a library of 3-D graphics pre-loaded on iPads and be scanned to see what they would look like as a piece of 3-D chocolate.

3d-chocolate-printingThe 3-D chocolate printer on display at Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction is the most advanced model in operation today, Hershey says.

“We are committed to democratizing 3-D printing, making this game-changing technology accessible and engaging for everyone,” explains Chuck Hull, founder and chief technology officer, 3D Systems. “Our partnership with Hershey, the largest producer of quality chocolate in North America and a global leader in chocolate and confections, allows us to create unique, exciting and personalized edible experiences, and this is a great way to showcase the power and possibilities of 3-D printing.”

One of Hershey’s goals is to gather knowledge and insights directly from consumers after they experience the interactive exhibit.

Through a survey presented on a large touchscreen, consumers will be able to share their preferences on customization options and product design. This information will influence the final technology and business model for a commercial 3-D chocolate candy printing experience.

“This exhibit is a great example of co-creation with consumers,” Papa says. “They will be instrumental in shaping the future of commercially available 3-D chocolate printing.”

Source: Candy Industry

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Good progress for Hershey

November 15th, 2014
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HersheyLogoThe Hershey Company has announced sales and earnings for the third quarter ending 28 September 2014.

John P Bilbrey, president and chief executive officer, The Hershey Company, says: “We made good progress against our third-quarter objectives as net sales, retail takeaway and market share trends improved versus the first half of the year.

“As expected, third-quarter US marketplace performance was solid as we gained market share across all segments – chocolate, non-chocolate candy, gum and mint – and essentially throughout every quad.

“Halloween seasonal orders and net sales were slightly better than our estimates. While preliminary, Nielsen data indicates Halloween sell through is on track and that we will gain market share in this important season. By class-of-trade, our marketplace performance was solid in the convenience store, large mass and value channels.

“I was particularly pleased with our third quarter convenience store retail takeaway of 4.0 per cent and market share gain of 0.2 points. However, retail store traffic and consumer trips continue to be irregular within the food channel. This has adversely impacted purchases of non-seasonal everyday candy products.

“Over the remainder of the year and into 2015 we are focused on driving non-seasonal and seasonal net sales growth, across all channels, with the optimal mix of innovation, advertising, merchandising and programming that we believe positions us to win across the confectionery and broader snacks categories”.

Source: Confectionery News

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Hershey extends lucrative Halloween season through ‘harvest’ tie-in

October 4th, 2014
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hershey-new-logosHalloween has gradually taken over the fall season, with witches and ghosts haunting storefronts as soon as September hits.

However, these big motifs, which go hand-in-hand with the excitement of dressing up and trick-or-treating, can overpower the more subtle notes of fall, such as harvest time and the changing of the leaves.

So, The Hershey Co.’s new fall line of products is an attempt to take advantage of both opportunities.

Store shelves will still be filled with Hershey’s Halloween-themed candy, but the company also is extending the season throughout the fall by combining it with harvest themes.

“One of the important strategic benefits of providing a range of fall- and harvest-themed confections is to greatly broaden the season beyond a single day in October, giving retailers a much longer selling season and tapping into consumer demand for sharable candies during an important season that features many family gatherings, celebrations and holidays,” explains Laura Renaud, associate manager of corporate communications at Hershey.

Both Halloween and harvest seasons offer a plethora of sales opportunities. Harvest represents a boost of $121 million in incremental sales, with a confectionery growth rate of 17 percent last year, according to the Nielsen Co. And, Halloween is an even bigger boom; the International Council of Shopping Centers expects consumers to spend $11.3 billion this year on all Halloween items.

These sales often go hand-in-hand.

“They help each other,” Renaud says.

Hershey has been on top of providing consumers with a link between the two themes for a couple years, though Renaud says she has not noticed other candy companies use similar marketing methods.

Hershey even publishes a seasonal website, CelebrateWithHersheys.com, which encourages consumers to think of the fall season as a time for both Halloween and harvest. Aside from featuring the company’s Halloween and harvest candy products, the site offers party ideas, recipes and crafts that fit the two themes.

“The recipes and crafts give reasons to buy harvest,” Renaud explains.

While Halloween may be more prominent in consumers’ minds with trick-or-treat and costume shopping, the site can help shoppers think bigger.

Despite making this link, Halloween and harvest can be separate shopping experiences, and Hershey does not aim to combine them entirely.

“When we work with retailers, we make a distinction between harvest and Halloween,” Renaud says.

Hershey creates different versions of its product to publicize each theme separately.

Hershey’s Miniatures assortments have two new looks for the season: a harvest version that features leaves, owls and squirrels, and a Halloween version that uses witches and ghosts as its characters. Hershey’s Miniatures also uses this character approach in other seasons such as winter, Valentine’s Day and Easter.

The pumpkin shape, a popular motif for both Halloween and harvest, is used throughout many products and blends the gap between the two themes. Pumpkin also makes an appearance as the “flavor of the season” in Hershey’s Kisses pumpkin spice-flavored candies.

Other popular fall flavors include caramel apple and candy corn, featured in three new products: Twizzlers caramel apple-filled twists, Hershey’s candy corn snack size bars and Jolly Rancher Crunch ‘n Chew caramel apple candies.

By offering and promoting these products throughout the season, consumers and retailers can go back to harvest after Halloween with ease.

“In the end, it helps retailers,” Renaud says.

It also helps consumers, who can now participate more than before in the fall season through shopping and snacking.

Source: Candy Industry

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Hershey Co. unveils new logo, updates corporate brand

September 13th, 2014
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hershey-new-logosBroad makeover of the confectionery leader’s corporate branding includes a new global visual identity.

It was 120 years ago that people across America fell in love with the name “Hershey’s” stamped on a chocolate bar.

Today, The Hershey Co. — known for its iconic Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars and more than 80 other confectionery brands around the world — is unveiling a refreshed corporate brand that builds on the company’s powerful legacy and creates a new, modern look and feel that positions the company for the next 100 years.

A key element of the broad corporate brand makeover is a fresh, new company logo.

The logo redesign underscores the company’s evolution from a predominantly U.S. chocolate maker to a global confectionery and snack company. The new corporate logo — built upon the globally recognized HERSHEY logotype used on its famous Hershey’s chocolate bar — is a modern update that features a new interpretation of the iconic shape of its Kisses brand chocolate.

The chocolate maker also dropped the ‘S, found on the consumer-branded products, underscoring the fact that The Hershey Co. is about more than Hershey’s chocolate.

Along with the new logo, Hershey is implementing a new, disciplined visual identity system inspired by the famous colors of its most iconic brands, including Hershey’s, Reese’s and Ice Breakers, to bring a more colorful and consistent look to all of the company’s visual materials.

The new branding will impact all visual aspects of how The Hershey Co. presents itself, from consumer communications to websites to the interior design of its office spaces and the look of its retail stores.

While rooted in a rich heritage, the new corporate brand reflects a modern, approachable look that reflects the company’s openness and transparency as it has grown into a global company.

“Today we are much more than the ‘Great American Chocolate Bar,’” says Mike Wege, senior v.p. and chief growth and marketing officer at Hershey. “We have an amazing portfolio of iconic brands in confectionery and snacking, a great workplace filled with remarkable people and a longstanding commitment to giving back to our communities. Our updated company brand and refreshed visual identity is an expression of our progression to a modern, innovative company that positively impacts our local communities as we continue to grow globally.”

The new corporate brand supports and reaffirms the purpose, values and culture that have been the foundation of Hershey since 1894.

The Hershey Co.’s brand promise — Bringing Goodness to the World — is deeply rooted in the company’s heritage and fundamental to the company’s current and future success. This promise is delivered by Hershey’s iconic brand portfolio, its people and the longstanding programs to help support children in need, a commitment that spans more than a century tracing back to when company founder Milton Hershey founded the Milton Hershey School for disadvantaged children in 1909.

The company’s work helping kids in need continues, including support of cocoa-growing communities worldwide and innovative projects in Ghana that provide nutrition and education to malnourished children.

Source: Candy Industry

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Hershey’s Learn to Grow program realizing targets

May 10th, 2014
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HersheyLogoThe successful launch and completion of its HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW program in Ghana, which was implemented 18 months ago to help increase the incomes and improve living standards of more than 1,400 cocoa farm families there, has prompted The Hershey Co. to expand the initiative. As a result, by launching Phase II of the program, the company looks to increase the number of participating farmers from its current 1,465 to more than 21,000 across Ghana.

One of the highlights from the program’s first results report is that all 1,465 participating farmers in Ghana’s Assin Fosu region passed their first-year UTZ audit and are now growing UTZ certified cocoa, adding additional third-party certified cocoa volume to the region’s cocoa supply. Hershey previously committed to using 100 percent certified cocoa in its products worldwide by 2020. In 2013, 18 percent of the cocoa Hershey purchased globally was certified, nearly double its original goal of 10 percent for the year. The company plans to increase that total to between 40 and 50 percent by 2016 on its path to 100 percent by 2020.

“The HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW program has exceeded our expectations and shown how a package of training programs, including business knowledge and good agricultural practices, can meaningfully change the lives of cocoa farmers, their families and their communities,” says Terence O’Day, Hershey’s senior vice president, chief supply chain officer. “The program has proven we can substantially improve productivity, family incomes and labor practices while increasing cocoa quality. We are pleased to be working with our partner in Ghana – Source Trust – to expand Learn to Grow to 20,000 more farmers who will all benefit from the training that has proven so successful in Phase I.”

Learn to Grow farmers are also enrolling in the CocoaLink mobile phone learning program sponsored by Hershey. CocoaLink provides farmers with weekly text and voice messages on farm modernization as well as information about health, safety and labor. CocoaLink has enrolled more than 45,000 Ghana cocoa farmers since mid-2011.

Certification helps increase farmer incomes
During the first year of the HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW program, farmers were educated on appropriate farming and labor practices and some underwent corrective actions that brought their farms up to UTZ standards, including adequate record-keeping and proper use and disposal of only approved crop protection products. UTZ is a third-party certifier that focuses on helping farmers to learn better farming methods, improve working conditions, generate more income and create better opportunities for their families, and take better care of their children and the environment.

The program also mapped the cocoa farms of participating farmers using GPS technology, which allowed them for the first time to understand the precise size of their farms and enabled them to use the optimal amounts of fertilizers and other farm inputs. GPS mapping also revealed the age of farmers’ trees and allowed them to develop a plan to gradually replace older, low-productive trees with newer ones that can begin producing higher cocoa yields in three years.

“The cocoa program has changed my ways of growing cocoa,” says Yaw Amponsah, a 51-year-old farmer from the Assin Jakai region who is married and has four children. “I’ve learned a lot from this program. I didn’t know how to plant this modern type of cocoa. I was using the old ways. Now I have learned how to increase my production. I’ve learned the exact acreage of my farms and know how much fertilizer I have to buy. This has saved me a lot of money.”

Gender balance and geotraceabiliy
Phase II will also seek to maintain a high participation rate for women farmers with a goal of 33 percent women registered farmers, a level of gender balance that was achieved in Phase I and confirmed in the program’s yearend 2013 progress report.

In addition to expanding the program across all of Ghana’s cocoa-growing regions and adding 20,000 new farmers, HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW Phase II will include Geotraceability. This program involves tagging and tracking individual bags through the entire supply chain to understand where products came from and to access records about how they are produced.

HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW Phase II is a partnership program with the World Cocoa Foundation and is part of the long-term Cocoa Livelihoods Program in West Africa cocoa growing regions supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Farming as a business
Another goal of Phase II is to teach farmers how to develop a business plan for their farms and how to manage their farms as a business, rather than simply a cash crop. The program includes helping farmers diversify their farm and integrate a food crop amongst the cocoa trees to bring biodiversity to the farm and generate an additional source of income. These modern farm management techniques are designed to appeal to younger farmers and help attract the next generation of farmers from the young adults living in the local villages. HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW also supports farmer and family education through a computer lab in Assin Fosu that supplements school curriculum and shows farmers modern growing methods.

One of the biggest challenges for cocoa farms across West Africa is the replacement of aging cocoa trees that are near the end of their productivity. Farmers are being taught to begin planting new trees and removing aging trees. Even though this can reduce yields in the short term, it increases yields in the long term. HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW has also created a cocoa seedling nursery to provide free trees for the program’s farmers and to help with the ongoing rejuvenation of farms in the region.

The HERSHEY LEARN TO GROW farmer and family development center first launched in Assin Fosu, Ghana’s central cocoa region, in 2012. The program was established to improve farmer livelihoods through good agricultural, environmental, social and business practices training; access to improved planting material; and finance for farm inputs with the goal to double productivity yield and farm income over four years.

The program expanded into Nigeria in mid-2013 through a public and private partnership with IDH (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) and Source Trust. In Nigeria, the program is working to provide 20,000 cocoa farmers with advanced training to improve the quality of their cocoa and increasing farmer income by at least 30 percent. Hershey Learn to Grow Nigeria will also provide geotraceability and business and finance training to farmers so they are able to access credit to improve their farms.

Source: Candy Industry

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