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Chocolate’s Sustainability Challenge

As demand for chocolate increases globally, companies that produce it are making sustainable sourcing a key part of their business strategy. For other companies with complex supply chains, the message is clear: sustainability means much more than brand management.

HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA – In the 1970s and 1980s, when multinational firms first linked sustainability to business success, the chief catalyst was vulnerability, not altruism. Consumer pressure, political boycotts, and costly lawsuits were damaging companies’ bottom lines, and environmental policies helped shield companies from bad publicity and protect shareholders from painful losses.

Today, corporate social responsibility and sustainability are no longer fear-based. Instead, sustainability is viewed simply as a necessity for the future. This is particularly true for industries that depend on agriculture – such as the chocolate business.

With chocolate consumption near historic highs, chocolate companies like the one I work for should be relishing our success. But we are facing a looming challenge. Unless we can help produce a more sustainable cocoa crop, the world may one day need to find a new favorite treat.