Hershey Co. is spending $500 million in the hopes of producing its iconic chocolate Kisses from more sustainable cocoa.

Through its so-called Cocoa for Good program, the company will invest the funds through 2030 to support four key areas: nourishing children, empowering youth, building prosperous communities and preserving natural ecosystems. The initiative’s goals include eliminating child labor and increasing shade-grown cocoa, which can be productive for as much as 15 years longer than plants grown in full sun.

World cocoa supplies are tightening following a price plunge that hurt global farmers and forced lower production, eroding a global surplus. The shifting supply outlook caused a whipsaw in the market. Futures in New York had surged 39 percent this year after tumbling 41 percent over the prior two.

A measure of 60-day historical volatility jumped to the highest since September as futures tumbled 5.2 percent to $2,498 a metric ton, the biggest loss for a most-active contract since May 24.

While recent “extreme” price volatility is typical of agricultural commodity markets, “we fully appreciate the complexity of addressing some of the challenges” for grower communities, Susanna Zhu, the company’s chief procurement officer, said in a telephone interview from Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast. “That’s why we are committing significant resources for the next decade.”

Source: Bloomberg

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