Washington: The Hershey Company will make its first commitment to sourcing independently certified cocoa for its Bliss line by the end of 2012.
The Raise the Bar, Hershey Coalition, a group of responsible cocoa advocates led by Global Exchange, Green America, and International Labor Rights Forum, started the campaign after identifying Hershey as lagging behind its competitors on addressing child labor, forced labor, and other abuses in the cocoa industry.
"It's great to see Hershey's take this first step towards accountability in their supply chain. We will continue to push them to ensure a better price for cocoa farmers so they can stop depending on forced child labor," said Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum. "The threat of a Super Bowl ad certainly increased the pressure, but Hershey's new agreement is really the result of thousands of consumers, students, church congregations and community groups writing to them over the past two years."
The Raise the Bar, Hershey Coalition has been increasing pressure on Hershey, including launching a petition on Change.org, creating "brand-jamming" photos and videos of Hershey products, blanketing the company's Facebook wall in messages, organizing rallies at Hershey flagship stores, and delivering more than 100,000 letters from concerned consumers to Hershey's corporate headquarters on Halloween.
"The Raise the Bar, Hershey! Coalition is excited to see Hershey listening to consumer demand for ethically sourced cocoa," said Elizabeth O'Connell, fair trade campaigns director for Green America, "but we also recognize there is much more work to be done to fight child labor and other abuses in the cocoa industry, and we will continue to encourage Hershey to develop ethical sourcing practices."
"The growth and ultimate success of Raise the Bar, Hershey's petition on Change.org is incredible," said Change.org Director of Organizing Amanda Kloer. "Hershey responded to consumer pressure with a significant improvement in cocoa sourcing transparency. It's been empowering to watch this group of concerned organizations and individuals use Change.org's tools to fight for changes at the Hershey Company."
In response to Hershey's announcement, eighth grader Jasper Perry-Anderson has created a follow-up campaign on Change.org asking the Hershey Trust to ensure the Hershey Company expands its commitment to certified cocoa to all its products in the future.