The Hershey Co. is partnering with the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute (SIRDI) to expand its Hershey Learn to Grow sustainable farming program to sugar suppliers in northern Belize. The program will train farmers in sustainable agriculture practices to responsibly grow and harvest sugar cane, as well as build on Hershey’s efforts to secure raw materials from sustainable sources.

“We’ve seen great success from our Learn to Grow program in the cocoa sector and now have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the sugar industry,” said Eric Boyle, director of responsible sourcing and procurement at Hershey. “The combination of our new sustainable sugar sourcing policy and the new farmer training program will give consumers the assurance that the sugar in our products is responsibly and sustainably grown and harvested.”

Hershey said its new sustainable sugar sourcing policy establishes “rigorous standards” to ensure sugar has been responsibly grown and harvested. By 2020, the company expects to procure 100% of sugar purchases from responsible and sustainable sources.

As part of the policy, Hershey has established guidelines for both U.S.-sourced sugar and international sugar.

For U.S. sourced sugar, Hershey said all suppliers will be required to complete independent social audits of their refineries and other facilities to the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) standard by 2020. Suppliers will be required to address any and all non-compliances with this standard in a prompt manner and submit corrective actions for Hershey’s review, the company said.