Hershey plans to increase the amount of cocoa it sources from Mexico by initiating a $2.8m crop growing programme in partnership with Ecom Cocoa that it says will boost yields in Southern Mexico.
Hershey and cocoa supplier Agroindustrias Unidas de Cacao SA de CV (AMCO), a member of the Ecom Cocoa Group, have set-up the Mexico Cocoa Project, a 10-year project to rejuvenate cocoa growing in the country.
Disease resistant trees
Hershey said that the domestic cocoa crop had been ravaged by the spread of the tree disease Moniliasis, causing beans to be virtually decimated and unusable.
The Ecom and Hershey project will attempt to boost useable yields by training farmers on methods of best practice and distributing disease-tolerant trees to renew 1,000 hectares of farmland.
Increase supply from Mexico
Jeff Beckman, head of corporate communications at Hershey, told ConfectioneryNews.com: “It is the early days for this 10-year project, but our desire is to increase our sourcing in Mexico as the cocoa yields improve there.”
“Mexico is already an important producer in the region. We believe this program will help expand this position. “
“Simply reducing incidence of the disease [Moniliasis], will substantially improve productivity,” he continued.
Hershey commitments and programme dissemination
Beckman refused to disclose the amount Hershey was contributing to the $2.8 m scheme.
Hershey recently announced its intentions to invest $10m in sustainable cocoa sourcing in West Africa over the next five years. In the first quarter of 2012, the company recorded $199m in operating profit.
The Mexico Cocoa Project is expected to improve the livelihoods of 1,000 Mexican cocoa farmers, while helping to address on-going concerns about the global cocoa supply, according to Hershey.
The project will be coordinate in collaboration with government agencies and a local NGO.