Last week, Angela gave us an update about how child labor and trafficking are continuing in the cocoa industry. As many of us are enjoying chocolate eggs and bunnies as well as chocolate-covered matzoh, it’s a good opportunity to ask: are our chocolate treats tainted by these abuses?
One of my favorite spring holiday treats has always been Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs (owned by Hershey), but I can’t help but wonder where it comes from and the workers who made it all along it’s global journey. Turns out it’s much more difficult than your typical Easter egg hunt to track down!
While some companies have agreed to various programs to trace their cocoa to the farm or cooperative and to begin to institute stronger labor standards for cocoa farmers, Hershey has lagged behind all of its competitors and has refused to agree to any such programs. You can check out a recent report from the International Labor Rights Forum to see what some other companies have agreed to do in the last year. Hershey has even consistently rejected shareholder resolutions requesting the company to provide even a basic level of transparent information about its cocoa.
Additionally, Hershey has also been restructuring its global manufacturing so that it pushes responsibility for the processing of its chocolate products to other companies. This process has had a negative consequence on workplace safety, job security and union membership among much of the workforce that produce Hershey products. Check out this recent article for more information on this topic.
As a result, consumers remain in the dark about where Hershey’s cocoa comes from and the conditions under which it is produced. Hershey is one of the largest chocolate companies in the country and is an iconic U.S. brand. Why then can it not use its considerable resources to track its global supply chain and take responsibility for ensuring decent conditions for its workers?
It’s time to tell Hershey that you don’t want to be in the dark anymore! Consumers want to know where our chocolate products have been and how workers were treated along the way. Sign a petition to Hershey here.
If you are stocking up on chocolate treats for the holidays, check how some of the major chocolate companies have rated based on their policies related to forced and child labor on Free2Work.org.
Photo credit: ccharmon