NCA’s 2013 Distinguished Service Award recipient is Dave Stuart, formerly of The Hershey Company.
Dave was a pioneer in our industry's early and on-going efforts to improve cocoa sustainability.
Through his leadership in the Chocolate Manufacturers Association and the American Cocoa Research Institute, Dave was involved with significant genetic programs that were developed to fight pest and disease in cocoa without use of chemicals.
Over the years Dave helped develop a variety of programs that are important to the industry today: workshops and farmer field schools in Indonesia and Africa; and sustainability conferences and programs all over the world. He also worked closely with the U.S. government - especially the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In 1996 he worked with the Pennsylvania State University to discuss the feasibility and cost of genome mapping of cocoa plants. In 2008, with his urging, Hershey financed the genome mapping project at Penn State which was part of the larger Global Team that published the sequence in Nature Genetics in 2010.
Dave assisted Larry Graham as one of the founders of the World Cocoa Foundation in 1999, and helped initiate some of its early programs. The Foundation today is very successful and represents an unprecedented global industry effort to change the way cocoa is grown and to improve the lives of cocoa farming families. WCF is supported by partnerships with governments, aid organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the global chocolate and cocoa industry.
Dave also played a key role in the Industry's efforts to address the concerns surrounding child labor on cocoa farms. He helped advocate for funding and field surveys to determine the extent and severity of child labor in West Africa in late 2000. In early October 2001, work started on the industry response to this issue and Dave was took the lead on the global industry's field programs. These programs were designed to provide better economic conditions for farmers so they could afford to send children to school and to identify and mainstream un-schooled children.
And in 2004, with Hershey funding, he launched a program to train teachers and distribute books and educational materials in Kumasi, Ghana and in Ivory Coast. As you can imagine, Dave travelled extensively in support of these programs, to places such as Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali and Mauritius, Brussels, Geneva and numerous other places in Europe. And while he earned platinum status on three airlines, he also earned the admiration and respect of his peers in our industry.