Slave labor in West Africa cocoa industry
April 26, 2012
Dear Hershey Company Board of Directors,
As natural grocers and food coops, we share a passion with our customers for high quality products that help foster a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.
Our committed pursuit of sustainable and socially responsible products means we care deeply about links between the chocolate brands we offer and the horrific stories of forced child labor and human trafficking in the West African cocoa industry. As you know, in Cote d’Ivoire alone, the US State Department estimates that more than 109,000 children work in the cocoa industry under the “worst forms of child labor,” and that some 10,000 or more are victims of human trafficking and enslavement.
We acknowledge Hershey’s recent pledge to ethically source a small amount of the company’s overall chocolate by working with Rainforest Alliance to certify your Dagoba and Bliss lines, however, this does not erase the fact that the vast majority of Hershey’s profits are earned at the expense of children. Hershey’s apparent unwillingness to commit to purchasing significant amounts of ethically sourced cocoa is puzzling considering that several of your major competitors have made already significant commitments to buy independently-certified, ethical cocoa.
Therefore, we have strong concerns about carrying any Hershey products, including your Dagoba and Scharffenberger lines, until the Hershey Company demonstrates its commitment to being a leader in the movement for independently-certified chocolate, which meets or goes beyond the standards of Fair Trade, instead of just barely keeping pace with its competitors.
We appeal to you and the Hershey Company’s legacy of caring for disadvantaged children. Please consider our concerns so that we can continue to work together in the future to meet the growing demand for socially and environmentally responsible chocolate.
PCC Natural Markets