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Whole Foods: Don't Support Child Labor Chocolate Maker

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Fair Trade and Social Justice page.

 WASHINGTON, -- Whole Foods Refuses to Hold Suppliers Accountable for Child Labor, Worker Rights Violations

Advocates against the exploitation of children by chocolate makers initiated a campaign today calling on Whole Foods Market WFM +3.25% to hold The Hershey Company HSY +0.64% - the manufacturer of Dagoba and Scharffenberger Chocolates - accountable for exploiting children for profit. The Organic Consumers Association, the International Labor Rights Forum, Global Exchange and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are demanding that Whole Foods join a growing coalition of grocery stores urging Hershey to fully commit to using only child labor free cocoa produced under fair-labor standards.

In August, a coalition of forty-one independent natural food stores and co-ops called on the Hershey Company to meet the standard set by its competitors and fully commit to using ethically sourced cocoa. Unfortunately, Whole Foods and its supplier, United Natural Foods, Inc. UNFI +2.46% , refused to sign the coalition's appeal.

About 35 percent of the world's chocolate is grown on small farms in the Ivory Coast. According to a U.S. Government-funded study, over 1.8 million children work in West Africa's cocoa industry. Many of these children are exposed to dangerous working conditions and some are even sold off to perform gruelling labor on cocoa farms.

"We believe it's time for Whole Foods and UNFI to join other natural food stores in pointing out to Hershey that ethically sourcing a small amount of the company's overall chocolate, does not make up for continuing to be laggards among the large chocolate companies, nor does it erase the fact that most of Hershey's profits are earned at the expense of children," said Ryan Zinn, Campaign Director for the Organic Consumers Association. 
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