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The Hershey Company (HSY - Analyst Report) recently announced that CocoaLink, its private public partnership with the Ghana Cocoa Board, has more than 40,000 farmers registered across 1,700 villages. CocoaLink is a digital exchange network that connects cocoa farmers and provides them information about advanced farming techniques.

The program offers information on dealing with dry weather conditions, pruning of plants, pesticides, and overall safety and health. The information is provided through messages sent in English and a local language Twi. Farmers can interact with cocoa experts at the CocoaLink through text or call. As many as 100,000 farmers are likely to be registered with CocoaLink in Ghana by the next two years.

Rising prices and supply of cocoa are matters of concern for the company. In such a scenario, CocoaLink is one of Hershey’s several initiatives that would ensure smooth supply of cocoa in the long term.

Overall, Hershey’s strong brand positioning, strategic marketing investments in core brands as well as disciplined innovation and consumer capabilities make it attractive. More than 80% of the company’s business is generated in the U.S. Though the company is increasing investments in overseas markets, particularly in Mexico, Brazil, India and China, another company like Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ - Analyst Report) already has a strong presence outside North America.

Hershey carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked food companies include Pinnacle Foods Inc. (PF - Snapshot Report) and Mead Johnson Nutrition Company (MJN - Snapshot Report). Both the companies carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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