Action Alert: Pressure Hershey’s to use Fair Trade Chocolate and STOP using Child Labour

The following is a repost from an article found on the website.


JUNE 23, 2009

Day of Action: Ask Hershey to Go Fair Trade

1-800-468-1714, Dial “0”


Hi, my name is ___ and I’m calling from ___ (city/state). I am a huge fan of [insert your favorite HERSHEY candy here]*. I’m calling today to ask Hershey to become a leader in sustainable cocoa production by purchasing Fair Trade Certified™ cocoa for your candy bars. With a label from an independent third party certifier, consumers have a way of knowing that Hershey is working to respect farmers and the environment, and end abusive child labor in the cocoa industry. Fair Trade is the only label that gives farmers a fair price for their cocoa beans so they can support their families and escape poverty. Thank you for your time!

(If you place a call, please e-mail us later and let us know how it went.)

*If you only buy Fair Trade, some alternatives are:

Omitting this phrase when you call
As a kid, my favorite Hershey bar was ______
My niece/nephew or grandchild’s favorite Hershey bar is ______
My favorite chocolate bar is Dagoba’s Fair Trade Certified™ Conacado bar (Hershey owns Dagoba.)



Before you call, you may wish to review some issues that Hershey may bring up while on the phone with you. Do not feel that you need to respond to their arguments, but we wanted to be sure that you feel equipped to understand some of the issues they may raise. They are available here: . If you receive a response from Hershey or have any questions, please do let us know!

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to improving the lives of workers around the world and stopping child labor!

Why Hershey?

For years, major chocolate companies have known that the worst forms of child labor and trafficked labor are used in the production of the cocoa beans they purchase from West Africa, particularly Cote d’Ivoire. Many companies use third-party certification programs in order to ensure that certain labor and environmental standards are met in the production of the cocoa they use in their chocolate. There are a number of certification programs related to cocoa production and many of them involve labels that communicate to consumers what standards were used in the production of the cocoa they are about to enjoy.

This past March, Cadbury announced that it would achieve Fair Trade certification for its Dairy Milk bar (the top selling chocolate bar in the UK) in England and Ireland by the end of this summer, with plans to expand Fair Trade cocoa further in their product line.

Major chocolate companies like Mars, Cargill, Heinz, Kraft and Starbucks have all agreed to various certification programs for their cocoa. While some of these programs do include labor rights standards, they are not as strong and comprehensive as they need to be to ensure workers’ rights are protected. They also do not address the problem of the low prices paid to cocoa farmers for their beans – a critical component of why child labor persists in this sector.

Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers are both able to meet the basic needs of their families and to continue to grow cocoa in the future by offering a fair price for cocoa. Fair Trade provides a path for farmers to increase their livelihoods and improve labor and environmental conditions in cocoa production. Fair Trade also has additional benefits like encouraging the development of democratic cooperatives where farmers have a greater voice in the market.

On the other hand, Hershey has not agreed to any third-party certification programs for their cocoa supply. Additionally, Hershey owns the license to produce Cadbury products in the US. Hershey is well placed to be a leader in Fair Trade cocoa sourcing for US consumers, but they need to know that we want our chocolate to be Fair Trade Certified™!


We already have Fair Trade Certified™ cocoa in Dagoba.

Hershey owns a smaller chocolate company called Dagoba. Dagoba has a range of chocolate products and some of these products (like the Conacado and Milagros chocolate bars) are made using Fair Trade Certified™ cocoa. However, the rest of both Hersheys’ and Dagobas’ product lines are not Fair Trade. Regardless of whether Dagoba has one certified bar, Hershey needs to have in place a strong system for ensuring that all of their cocoa for all of their products is produced by farmers who can support their families and that violations of international labor rights standards are not occurring in their supply chains. 

Fair Trade is a niche market.

Fair Trade is about making sure that cocoa farmers can support their families, institute strong labor and environmental standards and continue to make a living growing cocoa. Far from just a niche in the market, Fair Trade is much closer to how business should operate across the board. More and more consumers are demanding this type of trading relationship from the companies they support. Fair Trade continues to grow despite the economic downturn. As Cadbury’s recent commitments show, Fair Trade Certified™ cocoa makes sense even for the most popular chocolate products.
Hershey is addressing child labor through the Harkin-Engel Protocol and programs funded through the World Cocoa Foundation and International Cocoa Initiative

The process initiated through the Harkin-Engel Protocol does not include a set of standards to be applied to cocoa production. It has not eliminated the worst forms of child labor or trafficked labor. Reports by a research team contracted by the US Department of Labor to investigate the implementation of the Harkin-Engel Protocol have labeled the “certification” program established by the Protocol a “misnomer” and have detailed the continued use of the worst forms of child labor, especially in Cote d’Ivoire. Both this process as well as programs funded through the World Cocoa Foundation and International Cocoa Initiative are not a replacement for taking responsibility for a company’s cocoa supply and instituting labor and environmental standards through a third-party system. Consumers need to know that a strong process is in place to protect workers and the environment. Fair Trade certification is an important step in that direction. For more information, please see ILRF’s most recent cocoa report here:

Fair Trade does not guarantee that child labor is not used.

No certification system can provide a 100-percent guarantee, but the elements of Fair Trade standards work together to lead to improvement in farmers’ lives and reductions in labor rights abuses like the worst forms of child labor. Fair Trade standards prohibit the worst forms of child labor and forced labor and include a monitoring system. The additional components such as the price premium and the democratic cooperative structure also help to contribute to higher labor standards on Fair Trade Certified™ farms. The increased transparency in Fair Trade supply chains helps companies to develop closer relationships with farmers and to work with them on improving living and working conditions. Fair Trade cooperatives are inspected annually. 

It is impossible to monitor our cocoa supply chain.

Major chocolate companies and competitors of Hershey like Mars, Kraft and Cadbury have all agreed to certification programs that include labor standards and are transparent at least to the cooperative level. These companies are showing that it is indeed possible to track and monitor a large company’s cocoa supply chain. Smaller companies like Divine Chocolate, Equal Exchange and Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates have been practicing a higher standard of transparency and partnership with farmers for years. 

Popular Hershey Products

Ice Breaker
Hershey’s Chocolate
Take 5
Cacao Reserve
Kit Kat
Almond Joy
Jolly Rancher
Mr. Goodbar
Mauna Loa
5 th Avenue
Pot of Gold
Hershey’s Sticks
Milk Duds
Good & Plenty
Bubble Yum


One thought on “Action Alert: Pressure Hershey’s to use Fair Trade Chocolate and STOP using Child Labour

  1. Nishita says:

    I am a chocolate lover but not at the expense of child labor. Sad to know that such a major chocolate manufacturer is dithering over this issue

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