ABIDJAN/LONDON (Reuters) – Ivory Coast and Ghana are cancelling all cocoa sustainability schemes run by U.S.-based Hershey in the west African countries, accusing the chocolatemaker 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 Ghanian cocoa regulators accuse Hershey of using the ICE (NYSE:ICE) exchange to source unusually large volumes of physical cocoa in order to avoid the premium.
The letter was verified as authentic by the spokespeople for the regulators.
Ivory Coast and Ghana said they are also barring all companies from running sustainability schemes in the west African nations on behalf of Hershey. The schemes certify cocoa as sustainably sourced, allowing companies to market their chocolate as ethically sourced and charge a premium for it.
Ivory Coast and Ghana have also withdrawn their membership of a U.S. cocoa industry association, accusing the body of helping American chocolate companies avoid paying the cocoa premium.
The Cocoa Merchants association of America (CMAA) is “condoning and conniving with American companies against poor West African cocoa farmers”, a separate document seen by Reuters says. Spokespeople for the Ivorian and Ghanian cocoa regulators verified the document’s authenticity.
The world’s top cocoa producers are meanwhile reviewing their membership of the Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC), a UK-based international organisation that aims to promote, protect and regulate the cocoa trade.