The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) plans to use the Super Bowl in Indianapolis this year to pressure Hershey’s into taking action over forced labor practices that continue to plague the West African cocoa industry.
The ad, titled “Hershey’s Chocolate: Kissed by Child Labor,” will appear on a jumbotron screen immediately outside Lucas Oil Stadium during the Super Bowl.
“In West Africa, where Hershey’s sources much of its cocoa, over 200,000 children are forced to harvest cocoa beans every year,” said Judy Gearhart, Executive Director of the ILRF. “Hershey prides itself on its commitment to supporting underserved children in the United States, yet it lags behind when it comes to putting policies in place to end the exploitation of children in the cocoa industry.”
Mars and Nestlé have both committed to begin sourcing cocoa that is independently certified to comply with labor rights standards, but Hershey’s has not.
“Hershey has no policies in place to purchase cocoa that has been produced without the use of child labor, and the company has consistently refused to provide public information about its cocoa sources,” Gearhart said.
Despite signing the Harkin-Engel Protocol –- an agreement made by the country’s largest chocolate companies to put an end to forced child labor by 2005 — the company has failed to prevent hundreds of thousands of children from working in hazardous conditions on cocoa farms in West Africa, according to the labor rights group.