With Halloween right around the corner, it’s time to start stocking up on treats for neighborhood goblins and ghouls. Huge bags of fun-size candy bars are lining the aisles in grocery stores around the country. But before you buy, the people behind Raise the Bar, Hershey have a message for consumers everywhere.
They have begun a campaign to raise awareness of Hershey’s non-compliance with International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions that set minimum ages for workers as well as banning forced labor.
Whilke they are calling for immediate change in child labor practices, their demands for fair trade (defined here) may take a little longer. The people behind Raise the Bar are asking Hershey to
“make a commitment to sourcing 100% Fair Trade Certified cocoa beans by 2012 for at least one of its top five selling chocolate bars that prominently displays the Hershey name.”
The ultimate goal is to have almost all Hershey’s products Fair Trade Certified by 2022.
Here’s how to support the cause.
Need alternatives for trick-or-treaters? My top picks for fair trade chocolate.
Check out reverse trick-or-treating!
Have a sweet (and responsible) Halloween!
Chocolate can serve as a feel good treat, but be sure to know where your cocoa comes from before throwing a bar down on your grocery store conveyor belt. According to the Integrated Regional Information Networks, three-quarters of the world’s cocoa comes from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. These countries employ an estimated 284,000 child laborers, even after international governments working in conjunction with big businesses have introduced self-policing legislation to try and eliminate these practices.
International measures have been taken to try to cut down on this numbers, but experts are convinced that the true problem stems from unfixed cocoa prices, where farmers end up being paid a fraction of price of the finished chocolate product. The Harkin-Engel Protocol, commonly referred to as the Cocoa Protocol, is an international agreement by the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, and signed by United States lawmakers, the Ambassador of the Ivory Coast, and eight major chocolate companies. The agreement originally set a deadline of 2001 to achieve its goals of assessing the extent of the child labor problem, forming multi-sectoral advisory groups, and building towards more credible industry standards. This deadline was unmet. The revised 2008 deadline brought few results, leading labor rights groups to speculate that the agreement was a way for gigantic chocolate companies to save face while governments collected data under the guise of ending exploitation.
However, the lack of results from big businesses doesn’t mean that consumers need to give up their favorite treats. Small batches of farmers in countries like the Dominican Republic have banded together to sell certified fair trade products. The National Confederation of Dominican Cocoa Producers represents “9,500 small-scale growers” and their products can be purchased online. Other fair trade certified chocolates (as well as other items) can be found on this site and an explanation of what makes fair trade fair here.
So, if who makes your chocolate ( or coffee!) is important to you, look out for these symbols next time you choose.
Recently we discussed Californian Senate Bill 568 that will ban the use of Styrofoam cups as well as other foam containers. This got me thinking about coffee.
At a trip to a local coffee shop I asked “Is all your coffee Fair Trade?” The friendly barista said that “All our coffee is Direct Trade.” So what’s the difference between Fair Trade and Direct Trade coffee?
Direct Trade focuses on the premium coffee market and can sometimes pay farmers 25% or more above the Fair Trade minimum for high-quality specialty coffee. It is a pledge by individual roasters, whereas Fair Trade offers the consumer an easy-to-see certification label that indicates the product has met third-party evaluation criteria.
Here are some reasons why we might consider purchasing Fair Trade or Direct Trade coffee:
- Both aim to provide a fair price for coffee growers by eliminating the middlemen of the traditional coffee market, who in some cases take advantage of a farmer’s lack of market knowledge or lack of financial resources.
- Not only is a fair price negotiated with the farmers, but also a contract is negotiated that stipulates what will be paid at each stage of the process: farmer, collector, miller, exporter, and importer.
- Both suggest that a consumer preference that goes beyond just the taste.
Both Fair Trade and Direct Trade have similar goals and both are aimed at improving the conditions for coffee growers. Typically, when one thinks about the treatment of workers, the treatment of the environment also improves. So, next time you are buying coffee, let’s think about the workers, the environment and start asking a few questions!