Lead Groups: Green America, Global Exchange, International Labor Rights Forum
Support Groups: U. Roberto Romano’s groundbreaking film, The Dark Side of Chocolate, was instrumental in raising awareness of the issue of child labor in cocoa. Dozens of student groups and religious groups participated in the campaign. Whole Foods and dozens of food co-ops took action by dropping Hershey products from their stores.
We targeted Hershey, the largest chocolate company in the United States, for its failure to address child labor in its supply chain. We used consumer, investor, retail, and media pressure to get Hershey to adopt certification for its cocoa, which would prohibit child labor. Child labor is an enormous problem in the cocoa industry, with many children forced to labor on farms for no pay. 1.8 million children are estimated to work in the cocoa industry in West Africa. Despite having $7 billion in revenues per year, Hershey was failing to take action. In October 2012, Hershey first announced that it would phase in certifications that prohibit child labor over the next decade. Continued pressure resulted in a 2013 commitment to a timeline. The long term impacts of this campaign are significant: 1. The top two chocolate companies in the United States (Mars and Hershey) have now agreed to certify their cocoa child labor free by 2021. 2. Thousands of children in West Africa will benefit by no longer being forced to labor on cocoa farms. 3. Laggards in the cocoa industry (such as Godiva) are now under pressure to certify their cocoa as well (Green America has a campaign targeting Godiva). 4. Millions of American consumers are now aware of the problem of child labor in the cocoa industry and expect chocolate companies to take action to address it. 5. The campaign increased consumer awareness of fair trade chocolate and boosted the market for these chocolates.