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Hershey touts responsibility progress, faces protests

By , - Last modified: May 1, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Dauphin County-based chocolate giant The Hershey Co. today is facing protests from activist groups at its shareholders meeting after the company on Monday said it made significant progress in 2011 in its corporate social responsibility report.

"I am proud of our many, meaningful sustainability accomplishments during the past few years but we recognize this is a journey," Hershey President and CEO John P. Bilbrey said in a statement. "Our team is committed to continually improving the way we do business and working to make our communities stronger."

The report highlights progress in several key areas, including:

  • Strengthening supplier code of conduct and applying to allU.S.purchase orders.
  • Launching CocoaLink program to support best agricultural practices inAfrica.
  • Committed to purchasing sustainable cocoa for some of its brands.
  • Joined U.S. Department of Labor and international organizations to combat child labor.
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent as well as water use by 12 percent from 2008 baseline.
  • U.S.manufacturing waste reduced by 23 percent from 2008 numbers.
  • Hired 50 percent more veterans compared with 2010.

The social responsibility report also sets new goals for 2015. The full report can be found on Hershey's investors website.

Despite the progress, activist groups including the National Guest worker Alliance, organized labor groups and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation protested the company's annual meeting this morning at the Giant Center in DerryTownship.

The National Guestworker Alliance last year helped foreign student workers organize and protest what they saw as unfair treatment in a warehouse where Hershey's candies were packaged.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is protesting the decision by the Milton Hershey School to not allow an HIV-positive student to attend the private school for disadvantaged children. The case is in the courts. The school trust is managed by The Hershey Trust Co., which is also the largest stockholder for the chocolate company.

Hershey, based in Derry Township, trades its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HSY.

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