Hershey uses cocoa beans picked African child slaves.
Halloween is upon us, and if you haven’t yet stocked up on candy, you soon will. The Food Revolution Network’s “Is There Child Slavery in Your Chocolate?” is a disheartening report on horrid and abusive child labor practices in West Africa and a series of broken promises by First World candy companies who say they will but are slow to source more ethically.
The worst offender, according to this report, appears to be Hershey’s.
“Buying cocoa from farms that employ such abusive child labor practices enables Hershey to keep its costs down and its profits up. In early 2010, the company reported a 54 percent jump in profits because of what it called “improved supply-chain efficiencies.” Such “efficiencies” allow Hershey’s CEO, David J. West, to make $8 million a year while unpaid children are forced to labor under cruel conditions on the farms growing the company’s cocoa.
….But while Hershey’s primary competitors have at least taken steps to reduce or eliminate slavery and other forms of abusive child labor from their chocolate supply chains, Hershey has done almost nothing….In 2010, the Hershey company issued its first ever Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Long on platitudes and promises, it was classic example of the practice of greenwashing – a PR effort to mislead the public into thinking a company’s policies and products are socially responsible, when in fact they are not.
…[a] carefully researched report pointed out that the Hershey company lags well behind its competitors in taking responsibility for the impact the company is having on the local communities from which it sources cocoa around the world.
Fair trade chocolate does cost more, but isn’t it worth it to they protect vulnerable children? Here are some certified fair trade companies: Cadbury’s, Clif Bar, Cloud Nine, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Denman Island Chocolate, Divine Chocolate, Equal Exchange, Gardners Candies, Green and Black’s, John & Kira’s, Kailua Candy Company, Koppers Chocolate, L.A. Burdick Chocolates, Montezuma’s Chocolates, NewLeaf Chocolates, Newman’s Own Organics, Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company, Rapunzel Pure Organics, Shaman Chocolates, Sweet Earth Chocolates, Taza Chocolate, The Endangered Species Chocolate Company and Theo Chocolate.
In fairness, public press is steering some big companies’ practices in an ethical direction. “Even Kraft Foods and Mars, Inc., hardly icons of social responsibility, have begun to purchase cocoa certified by the Rainforest Alliance to be free from the use of forced labor, child labor, or discrimination,” according to article, adding, “Hershey has announced that they are moving towards Fair Trade certification by 2020. That’s a nice step. But why does it need to take them that long to end participation in a horrendously exploitive system? There’s nothing sweet about manufacturing 80 million Hershey Kisses a day, using cocoa that may very well have been produced using abusive child labor.”