Hershey’s Chocolate Changes Children’s Lives (but not the way you might think)

Hershey's Chocolate Child Labor

Hershey is the favorite chocolate brand in the U.S., with 42.5% of the market, but much of the cocoa used to produce their chocolate may very well have been produced with forced labor, human trafficking, and abusive child labor.

According to their website, Milton Hershey loved children, so he founded the Milton Hershey School for orphaned boys, donating his personal fortune to a trust for this purpose.

“Unable to have children of their own, the couple developed a profound and deeply felt concern for the well-being of all children, especially those less fortunate.”

The school operates under the umbrella of the Hershey Trust Company, which is the largest shareholder of Hershey, making the school the largest beneficiary of the Hershey Company.

It’s too bad that they can’t see the hypocrisy of funding a school for “those less fortunate” using profits which come from child labor, slave labor, and horrible working conditions in the cocoa growing regions of West Africa.

So what can we do about Hershey’s connection with child labor?

  • To start with, stop purchasing anything made by Hershey’s Chocolate. I have refused to buy any of their products for a very long time – not only are their products inferior, but are full of dubious ingredients.

I only purchase Fair Trade certified chocolate products from companies that I trust – and Hershey’s refuses to support Fair Trade cocoa growers. Use this handy guide from Green America to see which companies measure up: Chocolate Scorecard

“Every major cocoa company except Hershey is adopting third-party certification for at least some of their cocoa in order to track and eliminate the worst forms of abuse. Hershey’s refuses to adopt third-party certification for chocolates that bear the company’s name.”

Of course, Hershey’s own Corporate Social Responsibility report (PDF) completely avoids the topic, even going so far as to repeat their own “mission statement” propaganda:

“Our Mission: Bringing sweet moments of Hershey happiness to the world every day”

Well, if you can define happiness as child labor and slave labor and human trafficking, then I guess they fulfill their mission…

A group of Fair Trade and human rights organizations produced “The Real Corporate Social Responsibility for Hershey’s” report (PDF) of their own, which calls Hershey’s on the carpet for these issues. Please read and share it with others.

  • Head over to Hershey’s Facebook page and ask them why they continue to refuse to adopt third-party certification for their products, and why they would continue to support child labor. (You may have to “Like” them in order to post to their wall.)
  • Send Hershey’s CEO a very special valentine (PDF), telling him you want the company to trace the sources of its cocoa, to work to eliminate child and forced labor, and to shift to Fair Trade Certified™ cocoa for its products.

Here’s the info for your valentine:
The Hershey Company
Attn: David West, CEO
100 Crystal A Drive
Hershey, PA 17003

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

7 thoughts on “Hershey’s Chocolate Changes Children’s Lives (but not the way you might think)

  • Great post, Derek!
    I hope the Hershely ban gains momentum. It’s quite a hypocritical company.

  • Ji Young

    This topic is both fascinating and disturbing! Would anyone know when exactly did Hershey Company utilize exploitation?

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  • Dewey Boyd

    With the World Cocao Conference approaching next month October in Accra Ghana…
    The question is
    will Hershey’s be there with Kisses Mr. West?

  • Melonie

    I love Hershey it’s CHOCOLATE PRODUCTS are to die for but not this i will take the ban and only eat fair trade so pretty much I’ll just go to ten thousand villages and by stuff there because they are child labor free

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  • Ive been against hershey for at least 6 months now and ive been trying to get my parenst to stop buying it, which they have but my mother is doubtful so i decided to do some research and im glad i found this website! Thanks! BAN HERSHEYS!


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