Praxis Mutual Funds is praising The Hershey Company’s announcement that by 2020 it will source 100 percent certified cocoa for all of its global chocolate product lines, as well as strengthen its programs to eradicate child labor in the cocoa industry.
Praxis Mutual Funds (which are advised by Everence Capital Management) has been in conversation with Hershey on this matter since 2009, encouraging the company to address its cocoa sourcing in order to help increase pay for farmers, provide fair labor standards for workers and put an end to child slave labor. Praxis has led this dialogue with the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment. Other participants include a number of members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. This announcement comes on the heels of Hershey’s decision earlier this year to make its Hershey’s Bliss chocolate products with 100 percent cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.
Certified cocoa meets comprehensive sustainability standards to protect the environment, employees and communities. Hershey intends to use an independent, third-party certification system to ensure its cocoa is grown sustainably and without the use of forced and child labor.
“Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa,” explained Chris Meyer, Stewardship Investing Specialist for Praxis Mutual Funds and co-convener of the Hershey dialogue. “Tens of thousands of children are forced – often smuggled in – to work on cocoa plantations, especially in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.”
While some smaller chocolate manufacturers already use certified cocoa, the vast majority of chocolate on the market in the U.S. does not meet these standards. In fact, certified cocoa currently accounts for less than 5 percent of the world’s cocoa supply. As the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America, this commitment from Hershey should significantly increase the global supply and demand for certified cocoa.
“This commitment from Hershey is a big step in eliminating labor abuses in West African cocoa plantations,” said David Gautsche, President of Praxis Mutual Funds. “We applaud Hershey, and will continue to encourage them and other chocolate manufacturers to address cocoa sourcing and labor standards around the world.”
Praxis is also leading conversations with Kraft Foods Inc., the world’s largest chocolate manufacturer, in an effort to help that company strengthen cocoa sourcing policies and local development activities aimed at eliminating forced child labor and increasing income for smaller farmers.
About Praxis Mutual Funds and Everence
Praxis Mutual Funds, advised by Everence Capital Management, is a leading faith-based, socially responsible family of mutual funds designed to help people and groups integrate their finances with faith values. To learn more, visit www.praxismutualfunds.com.
Everence helps individuals, organizations and congregations integrate finances with faith through a national team of advisors and representatives. Everence offers banking, insurance and financial services with community benefits and stewardship education. To learn more, visit Everence.com or call (800) 348-7468.