Hershey’s Chocolate Bar: The Product of Child Labor and Child Slavery
When I used to think of Hershey’s, I used to think of moments of goodness. Flour-covered countertops in my kitchen, the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, tin boxes filled with my great-grandmother’s homemade peanut butter blossoms finished with a Hershey’s kiss. When I think of Hershey’s now, I think of the offensive, unethical, and unacceptable behavior this multinational company is conducting in the production and harvesting of cocoa that depends heavily upon child slavery, child trafficking, and child labor. This is a human rights issue that needs to be seen by the world and receive criticism from the international community.
Multinational companies, like Hershey's, invest in cheap labor, lax rules, and minimal laws, related to labor, health, and environmental standards, for the benefit of their own profit. Hershey’s is a prime example of this toxic behavior and they must reassess their certification and production system to fully ensure “making more moments of goodness” for all people and children in the world. While they are making efforts to help children succeed in life, improve access to nutrition in children, and invest in places where people live and work, their work falls far behind the “goodness” for which they stand for. Hershey’s has the capability and power as a well-known and beloved company to so many people, to actually make significant changes in the production chain of their chocolate products that do not depend upon child slave labor and child trafficking.
I urge consumers to demand change from Hershey’s and its heinous and unethical practices. They fail to address the promises they've made regarding the fact that their production of chocolate bars and profit relies upon that of children.
Right now, Hershey’s focus is on the “goodness” of their profits at the expense of children’s futures and lives.
Hershey’s classic milk chocolate bar starts at the seeds of a cocoa tree. However, Hershey’s chocolate bar doesn't just sprout from the cocoa seed. It is grounded and roasted by enslaved children who are forced into dangerous and inhumane labor conditions to collect cocoa mass that then becomes chocolate in rough form through a number of processes. The issue isn't the fact that Hershey's makes chocolate from cocoa seeds, the issue is that children as young as 11 and 12 years old are captured, enslaved, and forced into child labor to help harvest the cocoa mass from the seeds. Many of these children are around the same age as children across our country who eat Hershey's products during Halloween, birthday parties, and baking sweets with family members. @Herhshey's, what "goodness" do you see in that?
Trafficked children are as young as 12 years old, and forced to work in dangerous conditions that impact their health, access to education, and their future livelihoods. They are exposed to toxic agro-chemicals, heavy lifting loads, burning fields, and sharp tools. These farms along the Western African coast have become vital for the production of chocolate products but have set up an epidemic of child labor the world's largest companies promised to eradicate almost 20 years ago, including Hershey's.
Hershey’s and other leading chocolate companies’ unwillingness to quality control is disgraceful and their fair trade label has been rendered meaningless. Their profit directly benefits from child labor and child slavery, a direct violation of human rights, at the expense of millions of children’s lives. Hershey’s MUST be held accountable for their atrocious actions and fully commit to changing their sources of production. They have been aware of the atrocities of chocolate production and child labor for the past 20+ years but have continually failed to meet countless promises made to remove child labor from their production chain. Hershey’s “Sustainable Strategy” 2019 Report Initiatives fail to address the issues of child labor production, and their attempts to “green-wash” the production of their chocolate products are disgraceful. In 2010, Hershey’s started a sustainability strategy, “Hershey’s Cocoa for Good,” aimed at eliminating child labor and improving education systems to raise world leaders. Yet, ten years later, they have demonstrated their inability to be an ethically and socially responsible cocoa-producing company. Hershey’s exploitative actions on developing regions of the world for cheap labor are only a destructive force for the people and children of West Africa.
The vast majority of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers rely on the labor of millions of West African children. More than 2 million children are engaged in hazardous, backbreaking work on cocoa farms with little to no pay, in the Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana on the western coast of Africa. Most of the children working on cocoa plantations have either been forced to flee their homes and families in neighboring impoverished nations of the Sahel region, like Burkina Faso, or Mali, due to extremist violence, or human trafficked and then forced into slavery for work (IRA Advocates).