Whole Foods & United Natural Foods criticised for failing to sign appeal asking Hershey's to fully commit to using ethically sourced cocoa

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Company response
25 September 2012

Hershey's response

Author: Hershey's

The Hershey Company does not tolerate child labor in cocoa producing regions. We are working with public and private partners to eliminate this problem...Hershey has helped...communities develop more productive agriculture practices, build educational and community resources, and improve labor practices...Earlier this year, Hershey announced a $10 million, five-year commitment behind programs and initiatives to reduce child labor and improve cocoa supply in West Africa...We are a founding member of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) and the WCF’s ECHOES (Empowering Cocoa Households with Opportunities and Education Solutions) Alliance...We are also investing in a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and our industry peers in the $40 million, five-year “WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program,” organized and implemented with the World Cocoa Foundation.

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Company response
24 September 2012

United Natural Foods response

Author: United Natural Foods

[On] August 15, 2012, UNFI obtained...a written certification from Hershey’s (and, specifically, its affiliate Artisan Confections, which produces the only Hershey products UNFI distributes)...[in which] Hershey certified that neither it nor its suppliers will use child labor, which is defined as “any person employed at an age younger than the legal minimum age for working in any specific jurisdiction”...Hershey’s has confirmed that the Dagoba brand is certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which certification includes monitoring and auditing of appropriate labor practices. UNFI is awaiting additional information from Hershey’s regarding the Scharffen Berger chocolate brand. In the meantime, UNFI has ceased distributing Scharffen Berger.

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Company response
24 September 2012

Whole Foods response

Author: Whole Foods

We do not take the concern over child labor or slave labor lightly, and we are currently in ongoing conversations with Hershey’s about its existing social accountability programs for its two chocolate brands we carry nationally, Dagoba and Scharffen Berger. Whole Foods Market is removing Scharffen Berger chocolate from our shelves pending receiving further information from Hershey’s; Dagoba chocolate products, certified by the Rainforest Alliance, will remain in the stores...Over the last several years, we have encouraged dozens of brands, including many of our major chocolate brands, to get fair trade certified. We have launched and promoted dozens of fair trade chocolate products, including Alter Eco, Divine Chocolate, Equal Exchange, Endangered Species, Green & Blacks, Lily’s Chocolate, Newman’s Own and Theo Chocolate.

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Article
12 September 2012

Consumer, Labor Rights Groups, Teamsters Tell Whole Foods: Don't Support Child Labor Chocolate Maker

Author: Organic Consumers Association, Intl. Labor Rights Forum, Global Exchange, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Advocates against the exploitation of children by chocolate makers initiated a campaign today calling on Whole Foods Market...to hold The Hershey Company – the manufacturer of Dagoba and Scharffenberger Chocolates – accountable for exploiting children for profit...In August, a coalition of forty-one independent natural food stores and co-ops called on the Hershey Company to meet the standard set by its competitors and fully commit to using ethically sourced cocoa. Unfortunately, Whole Foods and its supplier, United Natural Foods...refused to sign the coalition’s appeal...Hershey's failure to commit to purchase significant portions of ethically-sourced cocoa contrasts with the proactive commitments demonstrated by its major competitors. [Also refers to Mars, Ferrero, Nestle] [The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Whole Foods, United Natural Foods and Hershey's to respond. Responses are provided below.]

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Article
23 August 2012

Food Coops and Natural Grocer Sign-On Letter

Author: Green America

Forty-one consumer-owned grocer cooperatives and natural food retailers operating 65 stores released an open letter today calling on The Hershey Company to take action to end child slave labor on cocoa farms in...Côte D’Ivoire. The retailers are asking Hershey to fully commit to ethically sourced cocoa produced under fair [labour] standards...[Text of letter:] We acknowledge Hershey’s recent pledge to ethically source a small amount of the company’s overall chocolate by working with Rainforest Alliance to certify your Dagoba and Bliss lines; however...we have strong concerns about carrying any Hershey products, including your Dagoba and Scharffenberger lines, until the Hershey Company demonstrates its commitment to being a leader in the movement for independently-certified chocolate, which meets or goes beyond the standards of Fair Trade, instead of just barely keeping pace with its competitors.

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