Hershey initiates Mexico Cocoa Project
by Eric Schroeder
MEXICO CITY — The Hershey Co. and cocoa supplier Agroindustrias Unidas de Cacao S.A. de C.V. (AMCO), a member of the Ecom Cocoa Group, have launched the Mexico Cocoa Project, a 10-year, $2.8 million initiative to reintroduce cocoa growing in southern Mexico. According to Hershey, Mexico’s cocoa crop has been nearly decimated over the past decade because of the spread of Moniliasis, also known as frosty pod rot, a disease that attacks the fruit of the cacao tree, causing its cocoa beans to become unusable.
During the next decade, Hershey and Ecom will provide training in farm renovation and good agricultural practices, and will distribute disease-tolerant cocoa trees to renew 1,000 hectares of farmland. The program intends to quadruple grower incomes and contribute to the worldwide supply of sustainable cocoa, Hershey said.
“Hershey has built a business in Mexico over the last 40 years that spans chocolate, flavored milk and more recently sugar confectionary, particularly spicy candy segment,” said Jorge Eduardo Pena, vice-president and general manager of Hershey Mexico. “Today we are very proud to initiate this project that will improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers in Mexico by providing them methods and better processes that will enable them to increase productivity of their farms, resulting in higher yields and family incomes.”
Hershey and Ecom will coordinate the program with several government agencies in Mexico and a local non-governmental organization.
“We have been active in the improvement of farms in Mexico in coffee through the provision of new hybrid varieties, and now, we are very excited at the opportunity to expand the activity to assist Mexican cocoa farmers,” said Tonathiu Acevedo, director of AMCO. “We are very happy to have Hershey as our partner in this ambitious project to revitalize cocoa farming. We will begin immediately to build nurseries, leveraging our partner’s knowledge of cocoa tree stock, so we can start distributing trees across the Southern Mexico region as soon as possible.”