Help end child labour in the chocolate industry

Monthly challenge

April challenge

Last November I suggested a monthly challenge to buy only ethical chocolate for a month.

This month I want to suggest a challenge that requires slightly more work.

  1. Read this post, and the more detailed update I’ve written, on progress to make the chocolate industry free of child labour and pay a fair wage to farmers.
  2. Commit to buying chocolate from brands you know to be at the forefront of ethical practices – there’s some information to guide you below.
  3. Write an email or letter to a chocolate company urging them to fulfil their commitments to wage and work justice.

That’s not too hard, is it? So please read on.

5 nasty facts about the chocolate we eat

  1. Globally, chocolate making is a $100 billion industry, where about two thirds of the cocoa comes from West Africa. But growers only receive about 6% of the value of chocolate sold. This can leave them with only half a living wage.
  2. About 2 million children work on plantations, most on family farms because their unpaid labour is all the farmer can afford. About 20,000 are forced labour, having been trafficked across borders and made to work.
  3. Instead of attending school, some child labourers work 12 hours a day.
  4. For a decade the big chocolate companies have promised to change all this, to pay a living wage and assist in community development. But so far deadline after deadline has been missed, and slavery appears to be growing rather than being eliminated.
  5. To pay a living wage would add about 25c to a $3 chocolate bar (if other costs remained the same).

How the big companies rate

The big six chocolate companies have been rated by several ethical shopping organisations. Here is my summary of their ratings (out of 5):

Ferrero Rocher★★★

There is good news

All six companies recognise that the farming communities need to be fairly paid so their communities can prosper, otherwise they are not going to reliably supply good quality cocoa. And the companies all recognise they have fallen short in meeting this goal.

Therefore all have developed plans to improve the sustainability of their supply chains and the farming communities. These plans would all achieve excellent results, if only this time the companies follow up plans with genuine action.

In addition, there are many smaller companies producing good quality sustainable chocolate and fair payment for workers, so there is an alternative for consumers who wish to buy ethically.

So the challenge is …

Will you not only commit to buying chocolate from the most ethical source that is readily available to you, but also send a message to at least one of the big six companies, urging them to ensure they follow their plans wholeheartedly?

You can read my more detailed outline of the issues, The bitter truth about chocolate, and make your choice about which companies you choose to buy from and to write to.

Here are the websites of the big six, where you can find contact details.

Thank you.

PS. Here is the email I sent to Cadbury Australia.

Cadbury chocolates are stocked in our local supermarket and I have enjoyed many over the years. I am also very concerned about justice and fair work practices in the chocolate supply chain.

I have read on the Mondelez website about the “Cocoa Life” program and I am encouraged to see your company planning such positive actions to reduce child labour, pay farmers a living wage and help in community development.

However I am also aware that many commitments and milestones by all the large chocolate companies have not been realised in the past and right up to 2020.

So I wanted to write to say I really hope this time Cadbury-Mondelez will make absolutely sure that the Cocoa Life program is carried out in its entirety. Chocolate eaters will be watching!

Thank you

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  1. Cocoa plantations require large land clearing operations to plant crops that produce a nutrionally useless foodstuff .
    It’s a waste of good land that could be left natural or used for more essential foods.
    So I would suggest not buying chocolate at all is an even more ethical action.

  2. Ah, are you a non-chocolate eater then? I didn’t know that. I am half with you, I guess. I think that eating a moderate amount wouldn’t require further land clearing, which I agree has apparently been rather devastating. And stopping altogether would take away a lot of people’s income. So I think a mid-way response may be best. But I have significantly reduced my own intake more for health reasons. Different reason, similar result.

  3. What have you got against lettuce?? 🙂
    Nothing, it’s better for you than chocolate 🙂

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