Sustainable cocoa

Hershey outlines details of cocoa child labor pledge

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Chocolate

Hershey has pledged to source 100% certified cocoa by 2020
Hershey has pledged to source 100% certified cocoa by 2020
The Hershey Company has told this site that it plans to work with multiple organizations to meet its recent pledge to use only certified cocoa by 2020, and will communicate progress in annual reports.

Hershey announced on Wednesday​ that by 2020 all cocoa in its chocolate would come from certified farms that use third-party auditing to clampdown on child labor and ensure fair working conditions for farmers.

How much is already certified and how will progress be communicated?

Hershey will not let on how much of its cocoa volume is currently certified due to “competitive reasons”.

However, the firm told that it would communicate progress towards its goal in its annual corporate social responsibility reports (CSRs) and will announce milestones along the way.

Asked why Hershey was refusing to communicate its current certified cocoa usage, Jeff Beckman, head of corporate communications at Hershey, told this site:

“Because we will now formalize tracking and reporting our progress for this new initiative as part of our broader, ongoing CSR tracking and reporting process.”

Child Labour in cocoa growing communities.
Around 284,000 children work on cocoa farms in West Africa, according to studies

The Tropical Commodity Coalition’s 2010 Cocoa Barometer​ gives some indication of how much certified cocoa Hershey is currently using.

Two year’s ago, it projected that 0.5% of Hershey’s 170,000 tonnes cocoa volume would be certified by 2012.

Beckman said: “We are currently sourcing certified cocoa for our Bliss and Dagoba brands and will do the same for the Scharffen Berger brand by the end of 2013.” 

Raise the bar reacts

Shortly before Hershey made its announcement, it came under fire from the Whole Foods Market in the US, which removed Scharffen Berger from stores. 

Whole Foods Market took the decision over Hershey's alleged failure to demonstrate a commitment on child labor, which had previously been highlighted by campaigners.

The Raise the Bar Hershey campaign, comprised of NGOs such as Green America and the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) had been critical of Hershey, but today welcomed its pledge.

A spokesperson from Green America​ told this site: “Hershey’s commitment is both monumental and necessary; however, they remain vague on which certifications, and on their timeline/benchmarks for achieving this.”

The Raise the Bar campaign considers Fair Trade as the only certification that adequately addressed the worst forms of child labor.

In a statement, it called on Hershey to certify and label one of its top-selling brands as Fair Trade within the next year.


Is Fair Trade the only certification scheme that adequately addresses child labor in West Africa?

  • Yes

  • No (please specify other certifiers in the comments box below)


Which certificates?

Hershey currently uses only Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa, but plans to use multiple certifiers to meet the 2020 target.

“Because of the extensive nature of our product line and the volume requirements of this commitment, we expect to work with numerous certifiers to reach 100 percent certification,”​ said Beckman.

He emphasized that Hershey latest pledge formed just one part of the company’s commitment to ending child labor in West Africa.

The company will invest $10 million on sustainable cocoa sourcing in West Africa over the next five years for schemes such as its mobile phone initiative Cocoalink and literary and health programs

The chocolate firm is also working with U.S. Department of Labor's Framework of Action, United Nations International Labor Organization, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and World Cocoa Foundation.

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1 comment

Good Article

Posted by Leonard Garden,

Thanks for treating a difficult subject with a good dose of objectivity. Thanks also for the opportunity to discern from readers (by vote) whether or not we agree that Fair Trade may be the only certification capable of child protection. Right all third-party certification systems are just part of child labor solution. That Hershey's has increased the urgency of its commitment is excellent news.

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