Move to certify entire product line seen as significant step to eradicate trafficking and forced child labor on cocoa farms and plantations
NEW YORK, Oct. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a shareholder coalition that engages companies on labor and human rights standards in global supply chains, commends the Hershey Company for its commitment to certify all its cocoa by a third party by 2020.
With a 43% share of the U.S. chocolate market, the investors view Hershey's decision as an important advancement that is certain to influence the industry and result in more sustainable cocoa farming and production.
Said Chris Meyer of Praxis Mutual Funds and co-convener of the Hershey dialogue, "Seventy percent of the world's cocoa is grown in West Africa, specifically Ghana and the Ivory Coast, where tens of thousands of children are forced, often trafficked, to work on cocoa plantations, and small farmers are unfairly compensated for their crops. While these conditions have persisted for decades, Hershey's commitment sends a powerful message that human rights and labor abuses will no longer be tolerated in cocoa supply chains and that certified cocoa is the new industry norm."
While Hershey's Dagoba Organic chocolate is currently produced from Rainforest Alliance certified farms and the company had previously announced its commitment to make its Bliss line Rainforest Alliance certified by year end 2012, the move to accelerate certification across all its product offerings is welcome and encouraging news for shareholders and a hopeful sign for the industry.
Said Kate Walsh of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment who also leads the ICCR dialogue with Hershey, "As Hershey owns the lion's share of the U.S. chocolate market, we are pleased to see such a substantial commitment from the corporation. While there is no one solution to injustices such as forced labor, Hershey's commitment has helped raise the industry bar and is further acknowledgement of the reputational risks that non-certified brands face. We look forward to receiving more information around the upcoming certifications."
ICCR members engage companies in high risk industries to promote ethical and sustainable supply chains. Examples of past campaigns include work with the apparel industry around their sourcing of cotton from Uzbekistan, labor rights abuses in the electronics manufacturing sector and the risks of human trafficking in the travel and tourism industry.
Said Pat Zerega of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, "Children who are enslaved, exposed to hazardous substances and work with dangerous tools are a concern for us all. In his address at the Clinton Global Initiative last month, President Obama said, 'All the business leaders who are here and our global economy companies have a responsibility to make sure that their supply chains, stretching into the far corners of the globe, are free of forced labor. The good news is more and more responsible companies are holding themselves to higher standards.' ICCR members and NGOs have been pushing for cocoa certification for many years. We congratulate Hershey for holding itself to a higher standard and taking this important step to help eradicate child labor in the cocoa industry."
About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Currently celebrating its 41st year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in AUM have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world. www.iccr.org
SOURCE Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility