Nestle is a food and beverage company with its headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1866 by Henri Nestle. According to revenue measurements the company is ranked as the largest food company in the world. The company has around 450 factories operating in 86 countries (Macartney). Hershey, is a food and beverage company that was founded to produce sweet chocolate in 1894. Its headquarters is in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Barrett). The two companies rely on supplies from farmers and operate in such a way that supplies are coming directly from the farmers. When it comes to corporate social responsibility, where the value of the business is to be shared by all, the two companies have a role to play. As a result, they have taken the initiative to deal with the social issues of child labor, which is substantial in some countries. The increased production by the suppliers at low costs in order to minimize their expences are the reasons for child labor. This problem is evident in third world countries where the companies get their supplies. Child labor has been catalyzed by not mechanizing agriculture as it is in developing nations (Macartney). In addition, child labor is a weakness in developing countries that have hindered children from access to health facilities and education. Therefore, this paper will be aimed at analyzing the steps that have been taken by the two food and beverage companies in addressing the social issue of child labor in specific third world countries where they operate. The country that will be used in this case is Ivory Coast where the two companies have opened factories. In addition, child labor in the country is more persistent than anyone could imagine.
Company Comparisons by Country
Nestle and Hershey are two different food and beverage companies that have taken up the social responsibility in their areas of operation. They strive to fight child labor in the different countries where they get their agricultural supplies. Child labor is a social issue that is evident in developing economies where agriculture has not been mechanized; thus they still rely on cheap workforce. Nestle and Hershey have both opened cocoa factories in Ivory Coast where child labor is a real monster in the society. There are different measures that have been taken to curb the epidemic in the country by each of the two companies. For Nestle, one of the measures that have been adopted is jointed cooperation with other multinational companies. Nestle joined the Fair Joined Associated, which is an international group that evolved in the U.S. as a task force of Clinton (Macartney). The association is working towards investigating fields in developing countries where cocoa is produced. This is a strategy that will ensure that the criticisms which have been put on the company regarding exploitation of child labor for its profits are shunned. This strategy is expected to work effectively since the companies that have joined the group that will keep eyes on their counterparts. Through FLA, Nestle has planned to advance labor rights in developing nations where they have industries together with improving the working conditions of the employees. A report produced by Tulane University, under contract to the Department of Labor in the U.S., showed that approximately 1.8 million children aged between 5-17 years worked in cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and Ghana last year. In addition, 40 percent of the children were shown not to have enrolled in school (Barrett). It was also evident that some families regarded child labor as a form of initiation into the family business. The issue is also worsened by many reported cases of kidnapping. Therefore, Nestle is working towards developing better strategies to eradicate the social issue. Nestle through its CEO has also developed a plan to involve all parties in the state including parents, the governments and cooperatives. This is seen through their slogan “getting everybody involved” which was made last year. This was raised after they found that the battle to end child labor will need participation of all parties. By the end of last year, the company had started involving the suppliers and educating them on good and ethical ways of getting and exploiting labor. They taught them the importance of protecting children, as a way of enhancing sustainability, so that they may have reliable labor in the future. Nestle has also started developing monitoring programs in the cooperatives. Currently, this has been implemented in two cooperatives, and it is expected that, by 2016, the company shall have done so in 30 cooperatives. Apart from setting the monitoring programs, Nestle is also planning to set clear labor standards and bolster its supply code. Through the World Cocoa Foundation, Nestle is expected to be involved in a project to build or refurbish 40 schools in the next four years. This is expected to triple the enrollment of children in schools so that they are not involved in labor activities. Despite the measures that Nestle has adopted to end child labor in Ivory Coast, the company is still faced by other challenges and scandals (Macartney). The latest is the horsemeat scandal where traces of horse DNA were removed from beef pasta meals in Italy and Spain. This left many wondering how such a company that was so greedy over its profitability and position in the food and beverage industry could make plans to end slave labor. In a statement, an officer said that if the company did not show any concerns about the health and wellness of the consumer, who is the source of profit, then there is no way that such a company would end child labor through corporate social responsibilities.
Hershey is a food and beverage company that has been accused of using child labor in its supply chain. This has been a significant threat to the company since, in some cases, their products have been banned. Last year the company was sued in Chancery Court for failing to release records showing how it complied with its plan towards stopping child labor. The report was, however, released later, and it showed clearly how the company has planned strategies to end child labor in Ivory Coast. Therefore, despite the criticisms that Hershey has got from external parties, there are some measures that the company has initiated to curb child labor (Stevens). One of them is the establishment of schools. There is the Milton Hershey School which is estimate to enroll approximately 2,000 children on an annual basis and provide them with world-class education (Stevens). The company has produced different reports showing its plans for addressing different issues associated with the food and beverage industry. The company shows considerable concern for its customers, community and children through its high quality products. The company has also taken the initiative to offer financial support to cooperatives in Ivory Coast. This serves as a way of setting facilities that will improve working conditions and cater for the needs of children. There is some financial support that HYS has given to the World Cocoa Foundation as a way of showing its serious concern in ending child labor in third world economies (Wenner). Last year, the company created more job opportunities even more are in project management. This was a strategy that was made to build a strong team that would show much responsibility in addressing issues such as child labor. The general structure of the organization was expected to change so that the focus could move from customers to making children well-being the first priority.
Conclusion and Recommendations
According to the different strategies that have been adopted by Nestle and Hershey and considering how pragmatic they are, Nestle deserves a fair grade (C) while Hershey deserves a (B). Hershey has shown greater concern for their consumers in the U.S. more than Nestle. This is seen the dedication it has had to provide information on time so that consumers and other stakeholders in the society can access it. From the analysis of the two companies’ strategies to stop child labor in Ivory Coast, Nestle seems to have the best plans; however, many of them are just stated and never implemented. Hershey has tried in implementing most of its plans and projects. As a result, it deserves a better grade than Nestle. It is believed that Nestle have less concern about the wellness of their consumers for instance, in the horsemeat scandal. This shows clearly that the company has less concern for its suppliers and children. Nestle should work towards implementing their good plans. This is because actions will always speak louder than words. On the other hand, Hershey should consider involving other companies in their plans. This will get many parties involved; thus finding it easy to implement their plans in time. This will also ensure that they gauge and compare themselves with other companies on how they are working towards stopping child labor.