Although we have already passed Valentine’s Day and Easter this year, the chocolate-buying continues! Here is a very brief overview of the situation with a load of links for you to follow up to learn more about this situation. Let’s enjoy chocolate knowing that we can support companies who are trying to make a difference and not support those that need to do more. No doubt we have a long way to go but we can do something about it.
A lot (about 80%!) of our chocolate comes from West Africa, including countries such as Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. According to the 2019 International Cocoa Initiative / Nestle Child Labour report “1.9 million Ivorian children are estimated to be in child labour in cocoa growing areas.”
“YOU TELL US NOT TO USE OUR CHILDREN TO HELP ON OUR FARMERS AND THEN YOU TELL US YOU ARE GOING TO PAY US 40% LESS FOR OUR COCOA – HOW DOES THAT WORK?”
A 2019 Washington Post article graphically and thoroughly investigates “Big Chocolate’s” tardiness and seemingly unwillingness to take the necessary measures needed. No doubt it is hard to regulate so many small farms in very rural regions. From the Washington Post: “Three nonprofit groups — Fairtrade, Utz and Rainforest Alliance — provide labels to products that have been produced according to their ethical standards, which include a prohibition on child labor… Yet some of the companies acknowledge that such certifications have been inadequate to the child labor challenge. The farm inspections are so sporadic, and so easily evaded, that even some chocolate companies that have used the labels acknowledge they do not eradicate child labor.”
Be Slavery Free is one of the best sources of information about the relationship between slavery and the chocolate industry. They have years of experience working with chocolate industry, advocating for human rights, and engaging the public to be aware and active in making chocolate slavery free. The organization teamed up with Mighty Earth and Green America to create the Chocolate Shopping Guide 2020, where you can see how your favorite brands and parent companies stack up in their commitments to reducing slavery in their products. The “Golden Egg” award goes to Tony’s Chocolonely (my favorite!) and the “Rotten Egg” award goes to Godiva. Check out the report for more details about the survey and results. The report also made a splash in Confectionery News – and industry journal about chocolate and other sweets.
Be Slavery Free also has some very simple, and very easy steps for the average person (that is you and me) can take to make your voice heard to the chocolate companies who must take more responsibility to clean up their industry. They have been asking for slave-free chocolate since 2001 and it is time that we lend our voices to this call!
“We are campaigning for the big global chocolate and producer companies, to uphold a living income through the innovation of programs, premiums and processes.”