Most Of The Chocolate You Buy Still Begins With Child Labour
Chocolate companies still cannot identify the farms where all their cocoa comes from. Even worse, they are not sure either, if child labour was used in harvesting the cocoa. Mars, maker of M&M’s and Milky Way, can only trace 24 percent of its cocoa back to farms. Hershey, the maker of Kisses and Reese’s can account for less than half of their cocoa’s origin. While Nestlé can trace 49 percent of its global cocoa supply to farms.
Almost two decades after promising to eradicate child labour, the world’s chocolate companies have missed deadlines to uproot child labour from their cocoa supply chains in 2005, 2008 and 2010. Next year, they face another target date and, industry officials indicate, they probably will miss that, too. About two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa. According to a 2015 U.S. Labor Department report, more than 2 million children were involved in dangerous labour in cocoa-growing regions.
As a result, the odds are high that an imported chocolate bar bought in a Nigerian shop is the product of child labour.
Child Labour Is Not News In 3rd World Countries
With the growth of the global economy, reports of worker and environmental exploitation in 3rd world countries are not strange. But in cocoa industries, experts say, the evidence of objectionable practices is so clear. Thus, the industry’s pledges of reform are ambitious and the breaching of those promises are so obvious.
Industry promises began in 2001. Executives of some chocolate companies signed a pledge to do away with “the worst forms of child labour” from their West African cocoa suppliers. They did this under pressure from the US Congress. The companies agreed to complete this project in four years. To succeed, they would have to overcome the powerful economic forces of child labour in one of the world’s poorest places. And they would have to develop a certification system to assure consumers that a bag of M&M’s or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup did not originate with the swinging of a machete by a boy like Abou.
Abou is a child labourer who harvests cocoa on a small farm in Ivory Coast. When asked by a Washington Post journalist, he says he is 19 years old. But when his supervisor looks away distractedly, he signals that he is only 15. Abou travelled to Ivory Coast when he was 10 years old to go to school. He has worked at the cocoa farms ever since he arrived.
According to the pledge made to lawmakers, West African governments and labor organizations also bear some responsibility for the eradication of child labor. Today, the companies have made major strides, including building schools, supporting agricultural cooperatives and advising farmers on better production methods.
It is hoped that in the coming years, child labour will eventually become a thing of the past.
Source: The Washington Post