Responses From Companies

Nestlé tackles PR troubles and publicly promises change.

Nestlé announced that their KitKat bars in Japan are going to only have ethically sourced cocoa.  This comes right off of the report that the the amount of children working in the cocoa fields of West Africa has risen from 1.8 million to 2.3 since it was last reported.


Child labour on Nestlé farms: chocolate giant's problems continue

Auditors completing their annual report continue to find evidence of child labour on Ivory Coast farms supplying Nestlé

Children younger than 15 continue to work at cocoa farms connected to Nestlé, more than a decade after the food company promised to end the use of child labour in its supply chain.

A new report by the Fair Labor Association (FLA), commissioned by Nestlé, saw researchers visit 260 farms used by the company in Ivory Coast from September to December 2014. The researchers found 56 workers under the age of 18, of which 27 were under 15.

               The rest of the article on The Guardian

Response From Inquiry to Mars Inc. 2008

In response to your email regarding MARS SNACKFOOD US. 

Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts regarding working conditions on cocoa farms. Mars takes very seriously our responsibility to the cocoa farming families who provide us with this important ingredient. Our privately owned company's heritage is based on a genuine commitment to the communities that are touched by our business. 

At Mars, Incorporated we invest significant resources in both manpower and funding to help ensure the sustainability of the cocoa supply chain. Our support is designed to ensure future supplies of cocoa and promote a responsible approach to its production so that the communities and the environment in which cocoa is grown can thrive. 

Since 2001 Mars has played a leadership role in the global cocoa and chocolate industry's efforts to address allegations of child abuse on the cocoa farms of West Africa. Mars is working with the national governments of Cote d'lvoire and Ghana (the world's largest cocoa growing countries), labor experts and community-based organizations to support the establishment of a certification process to ensure that cocoa is farmed free from the worst forms of child labor. 

We recognize that achieving real change requires working in partnership with others who have skills complementary to our own. To support that approach the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), an independent voice dedicated to eradicating abusive child and forced labor in cocoa production worldwide, was established in 2002. As a registered charity, the ICI's Board of Directors represents a wide range of stakeholders: human rights and child labor organizations, trades unions, local groups in the cocoa growing countries, and the cocoa and chocolate industry. We are proud that one of our senior Mars executives had been chosen to serve as co-president of the ICI. The ICI is making great strides towards improving labor conditions in the cocoa growing regions of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. For more detailed information on the programs of the ICI, please visit 

We are also working to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their families through our participation in the Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP), a public-private partnership between the cocoa and chocolate industry and government supporters. This program, operating in West Africa, has successfully promoted farmers' organizations and co-operatives leading to improvements designed to help farmers achieve better prices for their cocoa. Through its Farmer Field Schools Program, the STCP also helps farmers gain increased yields by improving farming techniques. For more information on the STCP, please visit 

In addition, Mars is a member of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), a global organization of cocoa and chocolate companies, processors, traders and others who are dedicated to improving the conditions of cocoa farmers and the communities in which they live. WCF programs raise farmer incomes, encourage responsible, sustainable cocoa farming and help strengthen cocoa farming communities. Members provide financial contributions as well as technical expertise and guidance to partners in West Africa and other program locations. 

Education is key to the sustainability of rural livelihoods. Working alongside Winrock International - an organization skilled in implementing rurual education programs - and others, Mars is helping children from cocoa farming communities as they learn to become the farmers of tomorrow. Programs offer access to vocational skills that will be relevant for the children and their communities now and in the years ahead. 

These steps to address cococa growing conditions in West Africa are the continuation of a long-term commitment Mars began in 1998 to improve the well-being of millions of small farmers who grow cocoa. To learn more, visit 

Our response to their letter.

Thank you for responding to my email.  I am a little confused.  If you've been working on this problem since 2002 with 2005 milestones to be met, why then  did the US Congress write you a letter urging you to get your act in gear?  Why does  the ICI Conference recommendations list have URGENT in front of every action item?  How do you account for the fact that in the last 10 years slavery  has risen 49% in West Africa but has decreased 10% in the rest of the world?  Where is the evidence that anything has changed?  Certainly not from any media visits to the area.  Your letter resonates "trying".  I know this is a complicated and difficult situation.  But so is running a huge corporation.  You don't tell your stock holders that you are "trying" to put together an annual statement.  You just do it.  Please prove to me that I am wrong.  I'm sorry but so far  your previous communication didn't cut the mustard.

Sincerely,  Ayn Riggs, Slave Free Chocolate

Response from Hershey's 2008

Thank you for sharing your concerns about cocoa farming practices in West Africa. The Hershey Company has made a long-term commitment to responsible cocoa growing and is a leader in driving meaningful change for the millions of families that depend upon this important export crop. 

As you probably are aware, West Africa is the leading source of cocoa, producing 70 percent of the world's supply. This cocoa is grown on approximately two million small family farms, many located in remote areas. An independent survey conducted in 2002 by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, in cooperation with the International Labor Organization of the United Nations (ILO), found that the vast majority of farmers in the region grow cocoa responsibly. No instances of slavery or forced labor were found on the more than 4,500 farms surveyed. The survey did identify areas where change is needed, including improving access to education and safety issues involving machete use and pesticide application. 

To help ensure that cocoa is grown responsibly, Hershey has taken a leading role in developing international standards of certification. Along with other industry members, Hershey is a party to the "Protocol" agreement, developed in partnership with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY). The industry has made progress in this effort, building a partnership that includes governments, farming communities, international agencies and non-profit organizations. Tests of a certification system have been conducted and efforts are underway to expand implementation in the region. 

Beyond certification, Hershey actively is working to improve the lives of West African cocoa farming families and their communities. Hershey and its industry partners have worked in association with the World Cocoa Foundation to provide training and education to thousands of farmers in the region.  This educational effort is focused on improving farm family incomes, promoting safe labor practices and stressing the importance of schooling for farm children. In 2005, The Hershey Company and the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH) announced a program to enhance educational opportunity in West Africa through teacher training and skills building. The two-year program is expected to train 2,000 teachers and teachers-in-training and benefit up to 40,000 young people in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. 

The teacher training program is just one element of the Initiative for African Cocoa Communities (IACC), a public-private partnership focused on increasing farm family incomes; improving the health, safety and well-being of cocoa farmers and their families; supporting improved access to quality, relevant education; strengthening biodiversity and wildlife conservation; and building stronger, more prosperous cocoa-farming communities. 

The IACC is operated by the World Cocoa Foundation, and I encourage you to visit for more information on the industry's efforts in the world's cocoa-growing regions. 

You may also visit  to find out more about what The Hershey Company is doing to improve the lives of farm families in the world’s cocoa-growing regions. 

This is a long-term effort, and Hershey remains committed to improving the lives of the millions of people who depend on cocoa growing for a living and to assuring consumers that the cocoa they enjoy has been grown responsibly. 

Your interest in our company is appreciated.