Major New Report Calls on Chocolate Companies to Use Certified Cocoa
Enter Email

 Watch the Video


April 8, 2011

A research team from Tulane University that has been closely examining chocolate company efforts to eliminate child labor and forced labor in the cocoa industry has released a new report that calls on companies to increase the use of certified cocoa, like Fair Trade certification. As one of the only major chocolate companies that has not made any commitment to use certified cocoa, Hershey would be well advised to implement this recommendation.

The Tulane research team has been working for the past four and a half years under a contract from the U.S. Department of Labor to study the progress of chocolate companies in addressing labor rights abuses in the West African cocoa industry. Their in-depth and independent research has been the only analysis of its kind and has included surveys of conditions on cocoa farms, interviews with children who had experienced trafficking from countries neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, examination of industry funded programs and much more. Last week, the team issued their final report which included a number of important recommendations for a range of stakeholders.

The years of research have led the Tulane research team to question whether it is possible for the industry to “self-regulate” human rights issues in their supply chains. The top recommendation in the new report is that “industry should continue to scale up its consumption — and publicly commit to new procurement targets — of product certified cocoa, specifically in the U.S. market.” Further, the report notes that “practicing traceability and/or Chain-of-Custody, which enables the enforcement of standards at the producer level and throughout the supply-chain, should be mainstreamed.” Product certification for cocoa, especially Fair Trade Certification, helps companies to better understand where their cocoa comes from and ensure that suppliers meet basic labor rights standards. The Tulane report is not alone in its recommendations as important shareholder analysts have called on chocolate companies to use certified cocoa and the U.S. Department of State has recommended that companies independently monitor and verify their supply chains to ensure that suppliers are complying with international labor standards.

This report and its recommendations are extremely important because it represents years of analyses of what promises from the chocolate industry to end abusive child labor have resulted in concretely. As Senator Tom Harkin stated, “Tulane’s report makes clear that although small progress has been made, our work must continue to address the problem of child labor in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa industries.”

The report recognizes the biggest chocolate companies in the world like Mars, Nestle, Kraft and Cargill that have all “demonstrated the market viability of product certification with their significant commitments to buy certified cocoa.” While the commitments made by these companies vary in their depth and accessibility to U.S. consumers, there is one top chocolate company that has not even started to respond to the Tulane report’s top recommendation: the Hershey Company.

Over 8,000 readers have asked Hershey to follow through with Tulane’s recommendations by beginning to source Fair Trade Certified cocoa. Hershey’s only response has been that it is giving money to fund some programs in West Africa, but Tulane’s new report states unequivocally that “industry’s and other funding of ICI [the International Cocoa Initiative] and other initiatives has not been sufficient in light of its commitment to eliminate WFCL [the worst forms of child labor] in the cocoa sectors of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire” and that sourcing certified cocoa is “a large step in the right direction.” Tulane’s last report also looked more closely at the shortfalls of many of the programs funded by Hershey in West Africa in addressing labor abuses.

Hershey needs to hear from consumers that we want to see this iconic US chocolate company catch up with the rest of the industry and not continue to be steps behind. Take action here to ask Hershey to listen to the Tulane University report and take a step in the right direction by committing to source Fair Trade cocoa.

Major New Report Calls on Chocolate Companies to Use Certified Cocoa


Fair Trade is the Pathway to Regenerative Agriculture

Coop Coffee

The movement for a food system that sustains people and planet is been growing. Fair trade offers a model to incorporate fair livelihoods and the true cost of production into regenerative agriculture models that are both new and very old, feeding the world and tending the planet. Written by Ryan Zinn The climate is changing, […]

A Soil-to-Soil Vision for the Fashion Revolution

Paige Green - Fibershed

From origins in Northern California, Fibershed is building a global network of regional regenerative fiber systems. Founder Rebecca Burgess describes her vision for vibrant local fibersheds that connect us to the landscapes that grow what we wear and sustains a new generation of farmers, ranchers, natural dyers and mills. From conventional cotton production, which uses […]

Fair Trade As We Do It: the Story of Jumbo Nuts

Annie Jose sewing rice seeds into her rice paddy

Fair Trade Alliance Kerala, the small-farmer collective I work for, is recapturing the homestead farming traditions of Kerala. Our goal is to grow to about 10,000 farming families stewarding about 40,000 acres of farmland, creating conditions that are akin to a tropical rainforest in crop diversity and biodiversity. For us, biodiversity is a food security […]

Regenetarians Unite!

Regenetarians Unite

As eaters, we have a choice: will our diets restore and replenish the earth, or will they deplete it? An exploration of three key principles that look beyond simple distinctions between omnivore and vegan towards a new Regenetarian ethos. By David Bronner How the Regenerative Agriculture and Animal Welfare Movements Can End Factory Farming, Restore […]

What Does “Regenerative Agriculture” Mean to You?

Women Workin in Fields - Coop Coffees

We asked that question to a handful of leaders, growers and thinkers from around the world. Here are a few of their thoughts. “Regenerative agriculture, based on our Andean experience, is the direct relationship with life. It gives life back to Mother Earth, provides food that connects with every aspect of human beings and their […]

Product Picks

Peace Coffee

We asked our team for some of their current favorite products from companies committed to the principles of fair trade and regenerative organic farming. Find them online or at your favorite natural food store! Imagine an economy that rewarded small-scale producers for their hard work, fed us all healthy food, and clothed us sustainably. While […]

Fair Trade for Farmers and Soil

Plowing field with oxen

Small-scale organic farming and regenerative agricultural practices combat our climate crisis and help feed the world. Here are just a few of the ways that fair trade producers and their brand partners are collaborating to grow ethical supply chains through regenerative organic agricultural methods, and producing goods that we can all feel good about. This […]

The Hidden History Made at Sakuma Brothers Farms

Picking blueberries: Copyright David Bacon

History was made on September 12, 2016 with the election of Familias Unidas por la Justicia to be the union representing berry pickers at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Washington state. Three perspectives on what that means for farmworkers, farmers, and our food system. History was made on September 12, 2016 with the election of Familias […]

Food Waste, Hunger and Climate Change

Food Wastage Footprint and Climate Change, Rome FAQ

As a child, you likely heard some variation of the cliché, “Eat all your food; there are starving people in the world.” While hunger remains one of humanity’s greatest challenges, the underlying causes are not as clear as one might think. Written by Ryan Zinn As a child, you likely heard some variation of the […]

Fair Cannabis?


For decades, workers have flocked to Northern California and Southern Oregon to work the fall cannabis harvest. Some are migrants on their seasonal tour. Others are driven by an interest in cannabis culture, or by the promise of lucrative pay. While some “trimmers” have had pleasant, safe and profitable experiences, many have not. Written by […]