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 is a welcome first step for Hershey to improve its supply chain accountability and monitor its use of child labor, and demonstrates that management acknowledges the severity of abuses, particularly in West Africa where Hershey gets most of its cocoa. 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.
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. Green America and other organizations that teamed up through the Raise the Bar, Hershey campaign announced plans to run an ad during the Super Bowl to highlight the company’s use of child slavery in cocoa production.
While we chose not to run the ad following Hershey’s decision, 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.
Hershey’s education plans and Rainforest Alliance Certification also raise issues. The education is designed to bring farmers more income, but it’s not clear how it will actually reduce or eliminate child labor. As well, Rainforest Alliance certification does not include minimum floor prices and community development premiums, which address poverty, one of the root causes of forced child labor. Learn more about details of Rainforest Alliance certification and Hershey’s educational plans at the Green America blog.