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March 26, 2013 / Elizabeth

Hershey Listens…

and Reveals Timeline to Transition to Certified Cocoa Sources

Two weeks ago, I attended the Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group (CLCCG) hosted by the Department of Labor in Washington, DC.  I was disappointed in what I heard from the Hershey company.

Five months after Hershey’s October 2012 announcement of plans to certify the company’s cocoa supply chain by 2020, all Hershey had to offer the CLCCG was its minor support of  CocoaLink, a text messaging program for farmers in Ghana.  It remains to be seen whether or not CocoaLink is effective in preventing child labor, as their has been no data reported on the issue.  What we do know is that 30% of the messages sent focus on social issues, a portion of which mention child labor specifically.   This program reaches fewer than 1% of Ghanaian farmers, and can demonstrate no measurable effect on the child labor problem.  The program has yet to be introduced in Cote D’Ivoire.

Green America and our allies in the “Raise the Bar, Hershey coalition” reacted by immediately releasing a public comparison of the social-justice commitments of the big chocolate companies.

One week later, on March 21, Hershey updated the terms of its commitment, pledging for the first time that 10 percent of its cocoa purchases will be certified by the end of this year.  

We’ve seen that constant vigilance and pressure pays off in pushing companies to do the right thing.  We’ll hold Hershey to its new 10-percent by 2013 commitment, and we’ll keep pushing the company to speed up its 2020 deadline for 100-percent certification.  We’ll also push Hershey to work with the strongest certifications when it comes to labor issues and that Hershey address the labor and environmental issues in all its ingredients, not just the cocoa.

Thanks for all your support of the campaign over the past few years. We are making progress! And we’ll keep you updated here.

 

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