New research by Ethical Consumer in the UK has claimed that top chocolates with recent love-themed marketing campaigns such as Ferreo Rocher, Guylian and Green & Blacks (owned by MondelÄz) have proven to be âJust not enoughâ to end child labor (and the poverty that drives it) in the burgeoning industry.
The independent, not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder cooperative, founded in 1989 and based in Manchester, has said it condemns companies to “turn a blind eye” to tackling extreme farmer poverty that causes child labor.
But the research has drawn criticism from major players in the chocolate industry.
Ferrero Rocher Response
Ferrero told ConfectioneryNews: “We reached out to Ethical Consumer because we strongly believe that the traffic light system does not reflect the work we do to ensure that our cocoa supply chains are fair, sustainable and transparent. Ferrero sources 100% sustainable cocoa which is verified by independently managed programs such as Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade, and our cocoa beans are 100% traceable to farms.
âWe have strong sustainability programs that aim to improve the livelihoods of farmers and communities, protect children’s rights and safeguard natural capital. We do not tolerate child labor and we are committed to preventing and eliminating this problem in our supply chains. Our dedicated certified farmer groups are audited by independent third parties and we monitor through Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS), a proven method developed by the International Cocoa Initiative to effectively combat child labor .
âIn fact, over 90% of these farmers have implemented a child labor monitoring and remediation system and it will be expanded in the years to come. Our cocoa sustainability program covers all of our brands, including Kinder and Thorntons.“
Josie Wexler, researcher at Ethical Consumer, calls for industry-wide action on the cocoa supply and the endemic poverty that underpins child labor. “Surprisingly, child labor in cocoa has increased by 14% over the past decade. Children are often involved in the dangerous use of machetes and toxic chemicals and carry excessive loads. “
Response from Mars Wrigley
A spokesperson for Mars Wrigley told this post: âWe firmly believe that child labor and forced labor have no place in the future of sustainable cocoa. Our Cocoa Strategy for Generations, Launched in 2018, is committed to investing $ 1 billion over 10 years with the ambition to help transform the cocoa supply chain so that global sustainable development goals are met, human rights are respected, the environment is protected, and cocoa farmers, their families and communities have the opportunity to prosper.
âYesterday, we published our report ‘Respecting human rights in the cocoa supply chain‘ which presents our progress, ideas and lessons in relation to our action plan for the protection of children, our approach to identify, prevent and mitigate human rights risks in our extended cocoa supply chain. Our progress includes extending the coverage of child labor monitoring and remediation systems to nearly 70% (up from 51% in 2019) of volumes originating in CÃ´te d’Ivoire and Ghana, in 58,000 households and the defense of the living income differential. We are also focusing on empowering women by doubling the Village Savings and Loan Association program to reach over 24,000 members by 2020, plus a $ 10 million commitment to CARE to reach over $ 60,000. ‘by 2025 and we have invested $ 3.3 million to support the Jacobs Foundation to promote quality education and early childhood development and nutrition.
âChild labor and forced labor remain a complex challenge for the entire industry and much remains to be done. child labor and forced labor monitoring and appropriate governance legislation to help tackle the root causes of child labor in West Africa.
The study’s authors say they contacted 40 companies to determine whether they had sufficient cocoa sourcing policies. They also reviewed the measures they were taking to tackle poverty and child labor on the ground.
The researchers felt that the absence of a policy by some companies meant that abuses such as forced labor or child labor, which are usually the result of extreme poverty, were more likely.
The following companies that Ethical Consumer said had insufficient policies in place include:
Ferrero; MondelÄz (Cadbury, Green & Black); March; Hotel Chocolat and Hershey’s, as well as supermarkets: Tesco; Marks & Spencer; Waitrose; Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Morrisons.
Wexler said: “Companies with sufficient cocoa sourcing policies in place achieved the âbestâ score for Ethical Consumer’s cocoa sourcing score. In some cases, brands dealt directly with the farmer, had traceable supply chain measures in place, and were able to confirm that they were 100% certified by the Fairtrade Foundation, giving farmers a premium compared to the market price.. “
Ethical Bean-to-bar chocolate MIA, short for Made In Africa, obtained a score of 85% (17/20) and a place among the top three brands in the Ethical Consumer study.
MIA co-founder Brett Beach said: âFrom the start, the MIA brand promise has been to create amazing food that feels good and this recognition is proof that the work we have done with our supplier partners in Africa is making a difference. We are also delighted that Ethical Consumer has taken into account added value in cocoa producing countries in their review which covers other important issues such as climate change, animal welfare, human rights and Pollution. In our experience, this is one of the most comprehensive reviews of business ethics, so it’s a great tool for measuring progress towards our goals.. “
Other brands cited by Ethical Consumer with sufficient cocoa sourcing policies were: Cocoa Loco, Lindt, Traidcraft, iChoc, Vivani, Ritter Sport, Lidl, Divine, Tony’s Chocolonely, Fairafric, Vego, Beyond Good, Chocolate Madagascar, Pacari , Co-op, Moo Free, Willies and Ombar.
“Governments have started to make efforts to tackle low prices at the root of the problem, and businesses need to be much more comfortable with this and help push it forward.“said Wexler.
“Fairtrade gives a premium, so the farmers get a little more money. Other models that help involve farmers more by partially owning the business (Divine) or making the finished chocolate locally can make a big difference, but ultimately governments and businesses need to do more to eliminate the poverty among industry suppliers.. “
- Other than Mars and Ferrero, the other companies in the report contacted by ConfectioneryNews were not available for comment.
- Read the report here.