For many children, Hershey’s chocolates are a traditional part of the trick-or-treating experience.
For thousands in West Africa, where Hershey’s cocoa is grown and processed, the brand is associated with much darker traditions, like child labor, trafficking, and forced labor.
Many of the largest global chocolate corporations are sourcing cocoa beans that have been certified by independent organizations to meet various labor, social, and environmental standards. But Hershey’s has consistently refused to join them.
Global Exchange, inconjunction with Green America, Oasis USA, and the International Labor Rights Forum, recently released Time to Raise the Bar, an independent social responsibility report for the Hershey Corporation.
The report points out the chocolate giant’s lack of transparency and unwillingness to take responsibility for its supply chain by tracing practices all the way back to the raw materials.
3 of the report’s most shocking reasons you should refuse to buy Hershey’s products this holiday season:
Much of Hershey’s cocoa is sourced from West Africa, a region plagued by sourced labor, human trafficking, and abusive child labor. Hershey does not have a system in place to ensure that its cocoa purchased from this region is not tainted by labor rights abuses.
While Hershey’s CEO received an $8 million compensation package in 2009, many of the farmers who grow cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana that ends up in Hershey products are barely able to cover their costs, and as a result, use unpaid child labor and even forced labor on their farms.
Hershey points to various charitable donations to children in the US and programs in West Africa as examples of its social responsibility, yet has no policies in place to ensure that the cocoa used in its products is not produced with forced, trafficked, or child labor.
Time To Raise The (Chocolate) Bar
Hershey lags behind its competitors when it comes to purchasing cocoa that has been certified to meet certain labor, social, and environmental standards. Most major chocolate companies offer Fair Trade options now, and many smaller companies have been 100% Fair Trade for years.
Only one of Hershey’s chocolate bars, from the Dagoba line it acquired in 2006, is Fair Trade certified.
Vote with your dollar and let Hershey know that you’re not interested in any more of its chocolate treats until it gives up its harmful cocao sourcing tricks!
Image Credit: Flickr- booleansplit