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Child labor pledge

Hershey stuns critics with commitment to source 100% certified cocoa by 2020

By Oliver Nieburg+

04-Oct-2012
Last updated on 04-Oct-2012 at 12:55 GMT

The Hershey Company has surprised its critics after announcing plans to source 100% certified cocoa by 2020.

All the firm’s global chocolate products will use certified cocoa from third-party audited farms that prohibit the use of child labor and aim to increase farmer well-being.

Hershey's Dagoba Organic Chocolate is already produced from cocoa beans from Rainforest Alliance certified farms and earlier this year, the firm announced that a premium line of Hershey Bliss would go Rainforest Alliance certified by 2013.

Hershey previously told this site that it was looking to see how the consumer responds to these products before setting targets.

NGO reaction

STOP THE TRAFFIK, had been among a growing number of NGOs putting pressure on Hershey to commit to certification.

Today, Antonie Fountain, director of STOP THE TRAFFIK Netherlands, told ConfectioneryNews.com he was surprised at the news.

“I hadn’t expected them to do this. Until this year Hershey seemed to be impervious to public pressure. It’s a good first step. The question is; how are they going to do it?”

He said that that the decision may have been taken to ensure a sustainable cocoa supply amid a bleak outlook for the cocoa economy, but also because Hershey was starting to fall behind competitors.

Mars announced in 2009 that it would source 100% certified cocoa by 2020, while Ferrero made a similar pledge earlier this year.

An estimated 284,000 children work on cocoa farms in West Africa, according to studies. Photo Credit: International Cocoa Initiative

5% of world supply certified

According to Hershey, certified cocoa accounts for 5% of the world’s cocoa supply.

Fountain said the global cocoa supply currently stands at 4,000 mega tonnes with demand expected to climb to 5,000 mega tonnes by 2020.

The commitments from the major players will ensure more cocoa is certified by the end of the decade.

Industry-wide issue

“Certification is a tool. It’s not a mean to an end,“ said Fountain, adding that chocolate manufacturers still needed to address farming practices in West Africa by working together.

He said that historically the industry had been reluctant to tackle the issue together under the guise of anti-trust legislation. However, he said that working together could be justified as a public morals exception under World Trade Organization (WTO) legislation.

Progress towards goals

Hershey has yet to communicate annual goals – but announced that its Scharffen Berger brand will go 100% certified by the end of 2013.

Yesterday, Whole Foods Market removed Scharffen Berger from stores over Hershey's failing to demonstrate a commitment on child labor. The International Labor Rights Forum said in a Tweet to this site that Whole Foods' decision may have triggered the announcement to go 100% certified.

It is unclear how much certified cocoa Hershey is already using, but the Tropical Commodity Coalition’s 2010 Cocoa Barometer  projected that 0.5% of Hershey’s 170,000 tonnes cocoa volume would be certified by 2012.

“Obviously, the commitment will need to be fleshed out more over the next months/years, but Mars similarly had to find their way forward after making their major commitment,” said Fountain

For more on Hershey commitments, see HERE .

ConfectioneryNews.com has asked Hershey for more details on its pledge. 

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