Hershey Is Now Certifiably Something
Long time readers of this blog know that I’ve been after chocolate companies for years, ever since finding out their supply chains often take advantage of child slave labor on some West African farms.
Hershey has been particularly unresponsive to campaigns calling for reform – up until now.
After years of staying silent on the matter, Hershey has announced a new plan to use only certified cocoa by 2020.
As an advocate for more responsible chocolate production, I think that’s great. As a writer, I’m wishing their promises didn’t look so rhetorical.
You see, “certified cocoa” doesn’t actually mean anything. Certified in what? Certified by the Chocolate Association as being extra chocolately? Currently a chocolate product can be certified organic or environmentally responsible without being certified Fair Trade or slave-free. Some of those certifications require different auditing than others. Hershey has invested a lot already in rainforest-friendly chocolate – those efforts help in South and Central America, but don’t adequately address the human rights problems in West Africa.
The vow says the certification will address both labor and environmental issues, and that Hershey will also invest in infrastructure around its supplier communities. I’m tempted to believe it. Unfortunately, it’s also an election season and I’m getting used to hearing empty promises these days – especially when those promises are for 2020 and not 2013.
To me, the exciting part of Hershey’s news is not its vague statement on certification but its willingness to be independently audited as part of that certification. Hopefully those auditors will make it clear to Hershey, and to us, whether or not the company’s efforts are making an impact on farming practices in West Africa.
(Photo by Jean Scheijen)