We don’t eat Hershey products largely because they are not organic. Once you have tasted a truly good, organic chocolate bar, Hershey’s doesn’t even taste good.
I did grow up on consuming Hershey’s, and I always dreamed of visiting Hershey, Pennsylvania with its kiss shaped lights. Little did I know this childhood sweet is actually “tainted with child labor”.
Just like coffee, fair trade cocoa is the most ethically produced (if you can’t live without it like me). Hershey accounts for a large part of the market, so they have tremendous power to change the practices and conditions of cocoa workers. Raise the Bar explains:
Hershey is America’s favorite chocolate brand, accounting for 42.5% of the US market. Yet, inside almost every Hershey chocolate product is the bitter truth that the cocoa used to produce the chocolate may very well have been produced under harmful conditions, including forced labor, human trafficking, and abusive child labor.
Since at least 2001, the Hershey Company has been aware of the problems that exist at the start of its supply chain, yet it continues to source from this region without ensuring that labor rights abuses do not occur in the production of the cocoa it uses.
Since clearly Hershey’s is marketed to consumers of all ages, they certainly should have some corporate responsibility to ensure children are not harmed.
When visiting the company’s website, I did find assurance that company’s marketing directed at children has been reviewed by the CARU Kid’s Privacy Safe Harbor Program, but that has nothing to do with child labor. The company does publish a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report, in which they give themselves a score of “achieved” for Code of Conduct related to supply.
The Hershey Company has a long history of operating with high ethical standards and integrity. We have done this by balancing our strong desire for profitable growth with our commitments to our various stakeholders, including our employees, shareholders, consumers and the communities in which we operate.
Clearly the emphasis is on shareholder rather than child labor. The Code of Conduct does say:
Social and Working Conditions
Hershey is committed to the elimination of the “worst forms of child labor,” as defined by ILO Convention 182, from its supply chain. We expect our suppliers to support and participate in industry efforts aimed at the elimination of such practices wherever they exist in the supply chain.
Suppliers must not utilize or benefit in any way from forced or compulsory labor, nor utilize factories or subcontractors that force unpaid labor. The use of official prison rehabilitation programs is not a breach of the Code.
Working Hours and Wages
Suppliers should provide wages at least equal to the applicable legal minimum wage and any associated statutory benefits. If there is no legal minimum wage, suppliers must ensure that wages are at least comparable to those at similar companies in the local area or to prevailing industry norms. Working hours should reflect applicable legal norms and overtime hoursshould be paid at the legally mandated premium or at least at the same rate as regular hours worked if there is no mandated premium.
If Hershey is truly committed to its code of conduct, I don’t understand why it would not embrace fair trade certified cocoa beans where third parties would ensure these standards were met. Hmmm, it must have to do with profits…