The company said independent auditors will verify the certified cocoa was produced by the highest labor, environmental and farming practices.
“Fair trade” campaigns have led to agreements by chocolate makers to help clean up the cocoa supply chain, but activists and researchers say little has changed in the decade since the U.S. Congress passed the Harkin-Engel Protocol to introduce a “no child slavery” label for chocolate marketed in the United States.
Some 1.8 million children, ages 5 to 17, work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and Ghana, according to the fourth annual report produced by Tulane University under contract to the U.S. Department of Labor to monitor progress in the protocol. The report says 40 percent of the 820,000 children working in cocoa in Ivory Coast are not enrolled in school, and only about 5 percent of the Ivorian children are paid for their work.
Hershey said previously that it was working to improve lives in local communities, and the company this year said it would invest $10 million in West Africa to reduce child labor and improve the cocoa supply, mostly in Ghana and Ivory Coast.