Ivory Coast lifts suspension on Hershey’s after company commits to supporting cocoa farmers
Ivory Coast and Hershey Co. have resolved their differences over cocoa prices.
The West African country lifted a suspension on Hershey’s sustainability programs after the Pennsylvania-based company committed to paying a premium on cocoa levied by the government to raise money to support farmers, according to a letter from the Ivorian regulator to the company seen by Bloomberg.
The governments of Ivory Coast and neighboring Ghana had accused Hershey, the maker of Kisses, Reese’s and other chocolate treats, of trying to avoid the $400-a-ton premium they’ve slapped on cocoa, aimed at boosting incomes for hard-pressed cocoa farmers. Hershey upended markets in November when it unexpectedly bought large amounts of cocoa through futures contracts, roiling prices.
In a statement late Saturday, Hershey said it has been paying the premium, known as the living income differential, and continues to do so.
“Our sustainability programs complement and strengthen our shared efforts to positively impact cocoa-growing communities,” it added.
Ivory Coast -- the world’s biggest producer of the chocolate ingredient -- and Ghana suspended ethical cocoa programs by Hershey and other chocolate manufacturers on November 30. Ivory Coast said the programs, which allow traders to certify that the cocoa beans haven’t been grown in protected forests or using child labour, benefit only a small number of farmers.
In the letter seen by Bloomberg, Yves Kone, the managing director of the Ivorian regulator, said the suspensions in his country would be lifted on Dec. 4 following Hershey’s commitment to pay the premium. The letter was confirmed by Kone and a spokeswoman for the regulator.
Ghana has not taken any decision yet on the suspension, a spokesman for the Ghana Cocoa Board said late Saturday.