Hershey, Mars and Nestle - plus cocoa suppliers Barry Callebaut and Cargill - are among 12 companies to set up a new industry initiative to "accelerate" efforts to make farming in west Africa "more sustainable".
Child labour is intrinsically linked to cocoa's broader sustainability challenges. If the cocoa sector is successful at boosting production during the coming years, it will not be deemed a sustainable expansion if the issue in the two major producing countries has not been satisfactorily addressed, writes Ben Cooper.
Hershey has become the latest major chocolate company to make a bold public commitment to sustainable cocoa. Andy McCormick, Hershey's vice president, cocoa sustainability, spoke with Ben Cooper about the company's 21st Century Cocoa Plan and its commitment to collective efforts to achieve a sustainable cocoa sector.
Cadbury owner Mondelez International has pledged US$400m to try to improve the lives of cocoa farmers and, crucially, help shore up future supplies of the commodity. The investment is the latest by a number of suppliers and, while their work should be welcomed, the use of child labour in cocoa farming remains a tough nut to crack.
Ben Cooper believes Nestle's response to the investigation into its Ivory Coast cocoa supply chain by the Fair Labor Association has the potential to move the needle on what has been frequently described as an intractable issue.