Care to tell Hershey’s to Raise the Chocolate Bar?

Via on Sep 21, 2010

Hershey’s—one of America’s best known and well loved chocolate companies, just released their first-ever Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

Kudos! Mostly!

It’s great news to hear this yummy behemoth is making steps in the right direction. But the report seems to fall short on a few levels.

It neglects to mention any plan to ensure that its supply chains aren’t tainted with forced labor, human trafficking and abusive child labor.

To their credit, Hershey’s is asking for your opinion on their corporate responsibility via an online survey.

Let’s let them know it’s time to take further steps toward Fair Trade. It’s an opportunity for consumers and the Hershey’s Company to work together to get products we can all feel good about.

Tell them what you think by taking the survey here.

Want to help spread the word?

Tell all your friends and “like” the Hershey post on facebook.

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3 Responses to “Care to tell Hershey’s to Raise the Chocolate Bar?”

  1. elephant journal elephantjournal says:

    Great comment from a buddy:

    Who are these people?

    I'm not saying I defend Hershey, but there are certainly two sides to the story.

    Hershey gets most of their chocolate from Africa. The growing practices are very different in Africa than they are in Central and South America. Because of the way the cocoa plantations are set up in Africa, child labor and human trafficking are more likely to occur. The situation in Africa is complex and it is likely that there is child labor and in those cases, Fair Trade certification may be a good thing.

    However, as you know, Fair Trade is not always a good thing. There are many fees involved with Fair Trade. With Direct Trade, the money spent on those fees could go straight to the farmer. Fair Trade often works with larger cooperative operations to make their effort more worthwhile. But cooperatives are often very flawed. The Fair Trade price is only about a dollar per pound over the regular world price. Let's say we pay $3 per pound for Fair Trade beans. About a dollar of that is going to go to Fair Trade. Then another $1.40 or so is going to go to the cooperative (owner, manager, accountant, friends, big cars, blah blah, etc.) and the farmer is left with about 60-cents. Sure, Fair Trade inspected the coop to make sure it was ethical and that the farmers had good practices, but this isn't the best case scenario. (I don't know if these numbers are exact, but it's what I was quoted by a farmer in Costa Rica)

    Growing cacao in most places in Central America (especially by coop members) is a way of life. It's completely normal for every member of the family to help with the effort. Just because they are children doesn't mean that it is child labor. Cacao has been a part of Mayan and Incan culture as long as the culture has existed. It's part of their religion and part of their everyday diet. This is very different than the African cocoa world, which lacks a meaningful relationship to cacao.

    [One farm I work with] is not Fair Trade, but it's one of the best functioning farms in the world. They are able to produce more cacao per hectare per year than almost any other farm in the world. We pay premium of about $2.50- $3 per pound for cacao. The farm has one owner and many farm hands. He pays them about 5-10 times the wage of most cacao farmers in Costa Rica. They are given homes near the plantation where their families live. The farm is Rain Forest Alliance certified. You know what that means… the plantation is a jungle, lots of wild life. Most of my wildlife photos from Costa Rica came from this cacao farm. But Fair Trade refuses to certify them because the land and farm is all owned by one person. But I can tell you, of the the dozen or more farms that we visited, the employees on this farm looked the healthiest, dressed the best and acted the happiest. The farmers that we visited that were part of a Fair Trade coop, were some of the poorest people we saw in Costa Rica. They couldn't subsist on cacao farming alone. One of the main lessons that we learned from them is that cocoa farming has become more of a hobby because it doesn't bring in enough money. They spend more time farming more useful crops for their home use. And some of these farmers continue to harvest cacao because of the spiritual importance that it has for them.

    Anyway… just sayin, not all non-Fair Trade chocolate is bad. And some Fair Trade chocolate is bad. Hershey is probably bad. Fair Trade could probably help Hershey become more ethical, but it's not going to guarantee that all of their farmers are in a good situation. Any day, direct trade is the best way to help the farmer.

    This wasn't supposed to be so long. Time for breakfast.

    X

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