Hershey melts… a little

For the first time ever, Hershey is accepting responsibility for the problems in its cocoa supply chain — but only for one product in its vast line of chocolate.  This baby-step by the biggest chocolate company in the US has renewed the call for the chocolate giant to go Fair Trade.  
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Students gathered outside of the Hershey store in New York City in June 2011

On January 30th, The Hershey Company announced that it would make a commitment to purchasing Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa for all of its Bliss Chocolate products, starting later this year.  Hershey also announced it would spend an estimated $10 million on farmer education and CocoaLink over the next five years.

This commitment to work with Rainforest Alliance is a welcome first step for Hershey to improve its supply chain accountability and monitor its use of child labor.  Unlike many of its competitors, this is the first time Hershey has pledged to use an independent, third-party certification system to ensure that its cocoa is grown sustainably, including the monitoring of forced and child labor.  This announcement demonstrates that management at the Hershey Company acknowledges the severity of the labor abuses that taint the West African cocoa sector, from where Hershey sources the majority of its cocoa.

Hershey’s announcement comes after years of organizing consumer actions, creative holiday activities, in-classroom actions, brand jamming contests, and protests and rallies at flagship Hershey stores around the country.  It also happened to come out less than one week after the Raise the Bar, Hershey Campaign announced that an ad would run during the Super Bowl that would highlight the company’s use of child slavery in cocoa production.

Because of Hershey’s recent announcement to begin to source certified cocoa we have decided not to run the ad, however, this does not mean the campaign is over.  We will continue to press Hershey for greater transparency in its cocoa supply chain and a commitment to monitor and prevent child labor in all of the products it sells.   Continue reading “Hershey melts… a little”