Hershey Gets a Not-So-Sweet Kiss for Fair Trade Month

Hershey, despite having a market share in the U.S. of over 40%, is doing the least in the area of fair trade.

cocoa beans

While Hershey was busy releasing its first-ever Corporate Social responsibility Report last week, a group of activists and researchers were busy gathering their response in the form of a counter-report demanding that Hershey go fair trade. The chocolate giant has been criticized in the past for a lack of transparency about where its cocoa comes from and for resistance to adopting fair trade policies, while many of its chocolate peers are already certified.

Here's what the Global Exchange report had to say:

"Hershey has no policies in place to purchase cocoa that has been produced without the use of labor exploitation, and the company has consistently refused to provide public information about its cocoa sources. Additionally, Hershey has made no move to shift to third-party certification for the cocoa that it sources from West Africa. No information is available from Hershey about how the money it has invested in various programs in West Africa has actually impacted reductions in forced, trafficked, and child labor among the suppliers of its cocoa. Finally, Hershey’s efforts to further cut costs in its cocoa production has led to a reduction in good jobs in the United States."

The report goes on to claim that a high percentage of Hershey workers in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana are victims of human trafficking, regular abuse, and, in the case of children, are working without their parents or any legal guardians.

Global Exchange, Green America, the International Labor Rights Forum, and Oasis USA got together to release the report, TIME TO RAISE THE BAR: The Real Corporate Social Responsibility Report for the Hershey Company. While competitors such as Mars, Kraft, Nestle, and Cargill are embracing fair trade, Hershey--despite having a market share in the U.S. of over 40%--is doing the least in the area of fair trade.

October happens to be fair trade month, so the pressure on the company is timely.

[Image credit: Keith Weller, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org]

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