HERSHEY, PA. — The Hershey Co. has unveiled a new palm oil sourcing policy, updating its December 2013 commitment to achieve 100% sourced and traceable palm oil.

Provisions to the new policy include protection against deforestation, protection of the environment and native species’ habitats, details on labor and human rights protection and the inclusion of smallholder palm farmers in the supply chain. Hershey expects to achieve traceability to the mill-level by the first quarter of 2015. From there, Hershey said it will determine which suppliers present the highest risks to deforestation, and will address those issues at the plantation level by 2016.

“Since we first joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (R.S.P.O.) in 2011, we have strived to ensure we are responsibly sourcing palm oil,” said Frank Day, vice-president of global commodities at The Hershey Co. “Our new sourcing policy gives our stakeholders the roadmap for how we will go beyond R.S.P.O.-certified palm oil and achieve a truly responsible and sustainable palm oil supply chain at The Hershey Co. Our new palm oil sourcing approach positions us as a leader among global food companies in sustainable palm oil.”

Hershey has become a member of The Forest Trust (T.F.T.), enabling the company to trace its palm supply chain. T.F.T. will review and evaluate the palm oil supply chain to provide assistance in possible adjustments to Hershey’s policy.

“Taking the decision to actively move beyond the accepted norm in palm oil is a very commendable one,” said Robin Barr, director of T.F.T. “It’s also essential for transformation in the industry. Hershey has put a great deal of considered thought into its policy, and the commitment to involve smallholders is vital for shaping an industry where responsibility and reward can be experienced by all.”

After meeting with many stakeholders across the palm oil supply chain, Hershey fashioned the new policy to address a synthesis of the many stakeholders’ points-of-view.

The company said it will annually release progress reports on its web site beginning in the first quarter of 2015.