When I’m eating chocolate, I never really think about what’s in it or where it comes from. I have this picture in my mind of Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompas collecting cocoa beans and mixing up the liquid chocolate. Unfortunately, we all know that’s not how it really works. There are no Oompa Loompas collecting cocoa beans, but those cocoa beans are coming from somewhere right? From where, exactly, are chocolate companies getting their cocoa beans, Hershey Co. in particular.
Someone – actually, a stockbroker for the Hershey Company – was curious enough about this question to file a lawsuit against Hershey Co. to compell them to share the information. The stockbrokerage firm (Louisiana Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System) suspected that Hershey Co. was using cocoa farms in West Africa that used child labor. Their suspicions were raised when the company did not want to share their books and records, nor were hey willing to label their chocolate products as “slave free” when congress was trying to pass legislation for this.
Now in 2015 the company is working towards having more transparency with their customers, when it comes to what is in their products and where it is coming from. This is thanks to the help of new QR codes on Hershey’s products! All you have to do is scan the code (like the one below) with your smart phone and there you have all the ingredients. It allows you to check the nutritional facts as well as check for any allergens. Hershey’s website is also now filled with this information as well as blog posts, finances, and facts about what is in their products.
As for the future of Hershey Co., I doubt they’re going to lose much business with allegedly using child labor. They have addressed it and have made some plans to move away from using cocoa farms that use child labor by increasing their cocoa certification. They have a page on the website on cocoa certification, which is determined by the use of cocoa farmers, based on whether they have the highest standards for labor, environmental and farming practices. Hershey says they plan to purchase 100 percent certified cocoa by 2020. Currently, they only purchase ten percent, so it looks like they have some work to do.
Hershey Co. has taken even further steps, by receiving help from The Center For Food Integrity to set guidelines for the best transparency. To reach a better level of transparency, Hershey will be focusing on food safety, impact of food on health, environmental impact, labor and human rights, animal well-being and business ethics.
It looks as though Hershey Co. is realizing the importance of transparency, not only within a company, but outside the company as well. You have to be transparent, especially if you are one of America’s favorite company’s like Hershey. They look ready to take on that the challenge and are displaying their positive efforts. Hopefully, they achieve their goals and keep following the plan of being as transparent as possible.