It’s the time of year when consumers are inundated with jewelry and flower commercials, stores are stocked with plenty of pink and red merchandise, and restaurant bookings hit max capacity. Valentine’s Day is one of the holidays that truly helps test logistics and supply chain management, but few companies are taking their sourcing as seriously as the Pennsylvania-based Hershey Company. Last October, the company announced its intention to use cocoa beans from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms in 100% of its products by 2020, in an effort to promote sustainable, ecologically-sound farming practices and safe conditions for workers and families.
While this means Hershey will be challenging its supply chain management, the company is dedicated to improving the quality of its products as it expands business into countries like China, India and Brazil, which are rapidly developing a solid middle class consumer base. “I think this is a very unique moment in history where we have these emerging middle classes around the world and the potential to make chocolate available to vast populations that chocolate hasn’t been available to before,” said Frank Day, VP of global commodities for Hershey. “We can deliver chocolate to many people around the world that haven’t had it before and create the demand for the cocoa farmers in West Africa and Indonesia and South America and the only way those cocoa farmers are going to be able to meet that demand is they’ve got to become better.”
In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift toward more environmentally- and socially-conscious sourcing. Due to the U.S. government’s interest in conflict minerals sourced from countries known for rampant civil rights abuses, businesses have been implementing the means to track precisely where their product components come from, whether through supply chain management software or other technology. While there is still time before the mandate for disclosure goes into effect, the law has helped place a spotlight squarely on companies’ sourcing practices, which will ultimately lead to improved management and a stronger supply chain.
In the meantime, as other companies work to catch up with the level of commitment Hershey is putting into both its products and its environmental consciousness, consumers can enjoy a “greener” option while doing their Valentine’s Day shopping.