Allegations against Hershey could impact candy sales

WASHINGTON — Hershey is facing accusations that it has not helped efforts to end child labor, which potentially could impact the sales of its products during one of the biggest sale seasons of the year.

The allegations come as Hershey gears up for Valentine's Day, a holiday that is one of the biggest sales drivers for confectioners: 24.6% of consumers plan on buying candy this Valentine's Day, according to the National Retail Federation. With the economic turnaround, more consumers also will increase their holiday spending to an average of $116.21 per person, ages 18 years and older.

Meanwhile, Wall Street analysts expected shares for Hershey to reach 61 cents on $1.48 billion revenue for Hershey's quarterly earnings, which will be released Wednesday.

The accusations came from Green America, an organization dedicated to making a green economy, which has kicked off its "Raise the Bar, Hershey!" campaign, which the organization said will encourage Hershey to switch to certified child-labor-free chocolate. Green America will host local screenings of the film "The Dark Side of Chocolate," collect petitions to send to Hershey and raise awareness in classrooms of the benefits that Fair Trade products can provide to both producers and consumers.

Trafficked child labor is widely used for chocolate production in western Africa, Green America said.