Hershey has already committed to source cocoa through three of the world’s most recognized cocoa certifying organizations: UTZ, Fair Trade USA and Rainforest Alliance.
The new pledge and benchmarks follow action Green America and allies took after Liz O’Connell, Fair Trade Campaign Director, attended the Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group hosted by the Department of Labor in Washington, DC.
Five months after Hershey's October 2012 announcement of plans to certify the company's cocoa supply chain by 2020, all Hershey had to offer the group was its minor support of CocoaLink, a text messaging program for farmers in Ghana, "deliver[ing] core messaging on improved farming practices, farm safety, child labor, crop disease prevention, post-harvest production and marketing."
This program reaches fewer than 1% of Ghanaian farmers, and can demonstrate no measureable effect on the child labor problem. Green America and allies in the "Raise the Bar, Hershey coalition" reacted by immediately releasing a public comparison of the social-justice commitments of the big chocolate companies.
One week later, Hershey updated the terms of its commitment, pledging for the first time that 10 percent of its cocoa purchases will be certified by the end of this year.
“We've seen that constant vigilance and pressure pays off in pushing companies to do the right thing,” O’Connell said. The Raise the Bar Hershey Campaign will keep pushing Hershey to speed up their 2020 commitment for 100 percent certification.