|A farmer opens a cocoa pod at a cocoa farm in Bobia, Gagnoa, Ivory Coast, December 6, 2019. (File photo by=REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Ivory Coast and Ghana are canceling all cocoa sustainability schemes that U.S.-based Hershey runs in their countries, accusing the chocolate-maker of trying to avoid paying a cocoa premium aimed at combating farmer poverty.
In a letter addressed to Hershey and seen by Reuters, the Ivorian, and Ghanaian cocoa regulators accuse Hershey of sourcing unusually large volumes of physical cocoa on the ICE futures exchange in order to avoid the premium, known as a living income differential (LID). The letter, which also accuses Fuji Oil Holdings’ Blommer subsidiary of aiding Hershey, was verified as authentic by spokespeople for the regulators. The schemes certify cocoa as sustainably sourced - meaning its production is free of environmental and human rights abuses, such as using child labor or being grown in a protected forest.
Ivory Coast and Ghana, which produce two-thirds of the world’s cocoa, said they are also barring third party companies from running sustainability schemes in the West African nations on behalf of Hershey. This allows companies to market their chocolate as ethical and charge a premium for it. Blommer had no immediate comment. The Cocoa Merchants Association of America (CMAA) is “condoning and conniving with American companies against poor West African cocoa farmers”, the document, also verified as authentic by the Ivorian and Ghanaian regulators, read. The CMAA didn’t respond to Reuters' requests via email and phone for comment.