8 years is a long time


In light of Hershey’s announcement last week, to go 100% Certified by 2020, a lot of our members have raised concerns about this timeline. Why so long? Especially since we have known since at least the year 2000 about the problem of the worst forms of child labor on cocoa farms in Ghana and Ivory Coast, and the industry has already missed so many promised deadlines to address the issue.

While the annoncement was an important step for Hershey to take, especially the acknowledgment that child labor is an issue in its supply chain, the announcement alone does not translate into progress. Hershey has not in fact changed any of its sourcing policies yet, so it does not mean we can all go out and stock up on Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Hershey’s announcement remains incredibly vague, both in terms of what certification bodies it intends to use, and how it intends to transition its cocoa to certifications over the next 8 years: 8 years being equivalent to an entire childhood or adolescence. If you have a five year old of your own, it means no s’mores with Hershey chocolate until they are 13. (assuming Hershey makes true on its commitment). And if you are a child who has been trafficked from Mali or Burkina Faso to do backbreaking work in the Ivory Coast, it could be your whole life.

The Raise the Bar, Hershey campaign is pressing Hershey for more information as we speak. Beyond what certification system(s) the company intends to use, we expect Hershey to share a concrete timeline for how quickly and when it will transition from conventional cocoa to certified for all its products. Without firm, progressive deadlines, and public reporting, their commitment is worth nothing.

Via a recent email-action to Hershey leadership, and our own dialoguing with the company, we are pushing hard for them to commit to fair trade certification, with specific benchmarks as they transition. We need Hershey to commit to reporting out on progress, and to meeting the quickest deadlines possible for moving each of their major products to certification. Some brands claim it requires several years to transition their entire supply chain because the cocoa they need to source is not yet available, or not available in the amount/quality they need. Hershey’s announcement last week seemed to come abruptly, without a lot of details, in direct response to our campaign work with Whole Foods (which agreed to drop Hershey’s Scharffen Berger chocolates from its stores until Hershey takes steps to address child labor). My hunch is that Hershey may not have a true timeline or plan yet, it just chose 2020 in order to be on par with its main competitor, Mars, that committed to going 100% certified by 2020 back in 2009. Once Hershey knows what it needs, it needs to make a progressive timeline and stick to it.

For now, for this Halloween, and the next few years, we need to avoid Hershey products and continue to press the company to move forward with its commitment. We urge you to support the companies that were founded to help cocoa growing communities worldwide. These sustainably sourced chocolate companies offer chocolate miniatures that are perfect for trick-or-treaters, using all-natural, Fair Trade, GMO-free and/or organic ingredients:

Alter-Eco Chocolate Minis: alterecofoods.com/products/chocolate

Coco-Zen Chocolate “Halloween shapes” & Minis:

Divine Chocolate Medallions: divinechocolateusa.com

Endangered Species Chocolate Organic Bites: chocolatebar.com

Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate Minis: equalexchange.coop/chocolate-bars

Unreal Candy: getunreal.com