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The Hershey Co. Makes Progress Toward Global Sustainability Goals

The company is working toward becoming a leading "snacking powerhouse" by focusing on six priority areas.
Danielle Romano
Category Captains_Hershey 2024

HERSHEY, Pa. — The Hershey Co. is making progress toward the candy and snack manufacturer's global sustainability goals.

In its recently released "2023 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report," Hershey outlined six priority areas for the company, how it is working toward a vision to become a leading "snacking powerhouse," and the company's responsible and sustainable practices that play an integral role in its business.

"Hershey remains focused on strengthening our business and making the biggest impact in our focus areas," said Michele Buck, CEO of The Hershey Co. "While we have more to do on this journey, the collective efforts of our team, in partnership with leading organizations and key stakeholders, will continue to propel us forward. Our actions and progress are aimed at driving long-term resiliency for our business, sustainability for our planet and the well-being of our people."

[Read more: Meet the 2024 Category Captain for Candy: The Hershey Co.]

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Highlights of the 2023 ESG report include:

Building more resilient & sustainable supply chains

Hershey's Cocoa For Good strategy, underpinned with a $500 million investment, includes initiatives to create a supply chain where farmers, and their children and families, can prosper. Today, Hershey has invested 51% of that commitment. 

Achievements include:

  • Improving farmer income and livelihoods: The Hershey Income Accelerator Program (HIAP) was launched in spring of 2023, and the company has reached 1,850 cocoa farmers with first cash transfers for the adoption of sustainable farming practices.
  • Investing in children's well-being: Hershey made investments to improve education infrastructure, provide school nutrition, deliver school supplies and help children obtain birth certificates. As part of an agreement with the Côte d'Ivoire's CNS (National Oversight Committee of Actions Against Child Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labor) and the International Cocoa Initiative, Hershey is funding construction of 12 primary schools in cocoa-producing communities. The first school opened in Drissapé, Côte d'Ivoire in December 2023.
  • Launching a new human rights framework: Hershey's new human rights framework, the Human Rights Impact Pathway, was developed to guide the company's future programming to address the most complex issues and drive systemic improvements that remove barriers to basic human rights.

Acting on climate change & reducing waste for business resiliency

Across its global operations, Hershey took actions to safeguard the planet, expanding efforts to reduce emissions in its value chain while advancing nature-based projects to combat climate change. Progress updates from 2023 include:

  • Minimizing greenhouse gas emissions: The company achieved a 43% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions against a 2018 baseline, and is on track to achieve a 50% absolute reduction by 2030.
  • Eliminating packaging waste and improving circularity: Hershey phased out more than 1.7 million pounds of material by eliminating, redesigning and reducing packaging in 2023.
  • Accelerating deforestation commitments: Recognizing the immediacy of climate change, the company accelerated the end date for its deforestation and conversion-free commitment from 2030 to 2025.
  • Reducing water usage: The company achieved a 20% absolute reduction in combined water use across all facilities since 2022, which includes a 46% reduction at corporate headquarters.

Fostering togetherness in the workplace to advance innovation & business growth

Hershey's people-focused programs help advance innovation, business growth and create a strong and fair company culture. Such initiatives include:

  • Strengthening the talent pipeline: Hershey developed a new leadership development pilot program called the LSP Leader Accelerator to further improve how the company feeds the talent pipeline and develops talent from within.
  • Providing transparency on pay: The company implemented pay transparency procedures for each salaried employee's Annual Compensation Statement including metrics to illustrate how base salary is positioned in the external marketplace and earning potential for their current job.
  • Hiring veterans: As part of their Pathways to JOIN, REACH OUT and GROW framework to draw a wider range of people to work with Hershey, the company exceeded their target to recruit more veterans and expanded data disclosed on recruitment.

Hershey's "2023 ESG Report" can be found here.

The Civic 50 Recognition 

Because of Hershey's support of community needs, advancement of inclusive economic development and philanthropic giving, the company was recently named a 2024 honoree of The Civic 50. The award recognizes the top community-minded companies in the United States according to an annual survey by Points of Light, the world's largest nonprofit dedicated to accelerating people-powered change. 

[Read more: The Hershey Co. Recognized Among Most Ethical Companies]

The Hershey Co. was also named the Consumer Staples leader for the third year in a row and received the Volunteer Leader Award for having the leading volunteer culture and embracing volunteerism as a priority for civic engagement.

"Hershey is committed to business excellence, long-term resilience and making a positive impact for the planet and people," said Leigh Horner, chief sustainability officer for The Hershey Co. "Our philanthropic giving programs and employee volunteerism are key pillars of the strong culture that enables us to delight consumers with our beloved snacking brands."

For more than a decade, The Civic 50 has served as the national standard for corporate citizenship and showcases how leading companies are moving social impact and community to the core of their business. Civic 50 honorees are companies with annual U.S. revenues of at least $1 billion and are selected based on four dimensions of their corporate citizenship and social impact programs: 

  1. Investment of resources and volunteerism;
  2. Integration across business functions; 
  3. Institutionalization through policies; and 
  4. Systems and impact measurement.

Hershey has been named to The Civic 50 every year since it was created in 2012. The Civic 50 is the only survey and ranking system that exclusively measures corporate community engagement. 

Pennsylvania-based The Hershey Co. has more than 90 brand names in approximately 80 countries that drive more than $11.2 billion in annual revenues, including Hershey's, Reese's, Kisses, Kit Kat, Jolly Rancher, Twizzlers and Ice Breakers, and salty snacks including SkinnyPop, Pirate's Booty and Dot's Homestyle Pretzels. The company employees more than 20,000 people in the United States and worldwide.

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