Food Co-ops and Natural Foods Retailers Raise the Bar on Hershey

Forty-one consumer food co-ops and natural foods retailers operating 62 stores released an open letter on August 23 to the Hershey Company, demanding that Hershey take action to end child slave labor on its cocoa farms in Ivory Coast.

The retailers asked Hershey, whose house brands include Dagoba and Shauffenberger, to use ethically sourced cocoa produced under fair labor standards. Ivory Coast farms are the source of about 35 percent of the world cocoa supply.

Participating co-ops include such retailers as Ashland Food Co-op, Bloomingfoods, Whole Foods Co-op, Bellingham Community Food Co-op, Bozeman Community Food Co-op, Hendersonville Community Co-op, Neighborhood Co-op Grocery, PCC Natural Markets, and others.

The action follows a July report by the Fair Labor Association that found rampant child slavery in the Ivory Coast.

In addition to the letter signed by retailers, a group of human rights and trade union groups -- Global Exchange, Green America, International Labor Rights Forum, Organic Consumers Association, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, National Guestworker Alliance, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and United Food and Commercial Workers -- have called on Whole Foods, United Natural Foods Inc., and other retailers and distributors to sign the letter.

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