After nearly 400 Mommy Greenest readers signed a petition urging Hershey to speed up its goals of certifying cocoa production and eliminating child slavery, the company responded quickly. I called Hershey yesterday, expecting to confirm receipt of the petition, which I had mailed less than two weeks ago. But within a few hours of leaving a message for CEO John Bilbrey, I received a lengthy email from their consumer relations department, which shared some things I didn’t know about the chocolate behemoth. Let me tell you, I was surprised. After 400 Mommy Greenest readers petitioned for a Hershey boycott to stop child slavery, the company responded quickly. Let me tell you, I was surprised. First of all, I had no idea of the impact that the company’s new BLISS line, which launched in December 2012 and is made with fair(er) trade Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa, has had on Hershey’s. The rep reported that:
18 percent of all the cocoa we sourced globally in 2013 was certified, nearly double our original goal. We are scaling our global cocoa supply chain to 100 percent certified cocoa faster than any other global chocolate company in the world. With nearly one-fifth of cocoa now sourced through sustainable practices, Hershey is on track to meet its goal of sourcing 100 percent certified cocoa by 2020.
She also shared that Hershey is now in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, in the $40 million, five-year World Cocoa Foundation Livelihoods Program, which aims to improve the lives and livelihoods of 200,000 cocoa farmers and their families in Africa.
Finally, the email referenced the Hershey Learn to Grow Farm and Family Development Center in Ghana, which reportedly improves the living standards of 1,250 cocoa farm families in that area—tackling the child labor issue as well.
This all sounds amazing. But weirdly for this socially connected world, I can’t find any pictures or information online about these projects except press releases.
Am I being paranoid that this makes me a little suspicious? Or has Hershey really turned their ship around?