Dirty Chocolate - An Update

Dirty Chocolate - An Update

October 24, 2013 at 7:16 PM - by Mary Ann Aabye - 0 comments

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time for an update to our blog post “Dirty Chocolate”, which talks about child labor and chocolate. When the post was originally published in 2011, the Harkin-Engel Protocol - legislation aimed at getting large chocolate companies to mark their products as “child labor free” - had reached its 10th anniversary. At the time, little commitment had been made by the major chocolate companies. Two years later, here’s an update on what the producers of your favorite chocolates are doing to help combat forced child labor in cocoa farming.

The Chocolate Industry Gets Involved

Since our last update, we have better news to report. Recently, two major confectionary companies have committed to sourcing 100% of their cocoa from sources free of child labor abuses by 2020. Mars Inc and The Hershey Company are two of the largest confectioners in the world, and together represent 67% of the United States chocolate market. Look at it like this – Mars and Hershey produce 8 of the top 9 US chocolate brands.

Additionally, according to the 2012 Annual Report of the Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group, the chocolate industry as a whole has committed $10.1 million toward framework activities meant to help reduce the prevalence of child labor in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, including $2 million invested in strengthening the capacity of governments through a public-private partnership between 8 global companies and the governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

This is an improvement. But, some activists argue that much more needs to be done. Global Exchange, Green America, the International Labor Rights Forum, and Oasis USA have joined forces for the Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign, asking Hershey to expand its commitment to combating forced child labor in the chocolate industry.

But why Hershey? The Hershey Company is America’s favorite chocolate manufacturer. It holds 42.5% of the United States market and produces American consumers’ 3 favorite chocolate brands - M&M, Reese’s Cups, and Hershey Kisses. And yet, Hershey’s commitment of $600,000 toward supporting fair labor practices is only 17% of Mars Inc. And Hershey is not alone. Barry Callebaut, one of the largest chocolate suppliers in the world, commits just $300,000 to the effort. 

Companies that Lead by Example

There are a lot of fair trade chocolate brands produced around the world – but what exactly does that mean in terms of combating child labor? The FAIRTRADE Certification Mark acts as a guarantee to consumers that the chocolate is sourced from farmers who follow the Fair Trade International’s standards for cocoa, which includes regular audits against strict child labor standards to ensure there is no forced child labor.

Green America publishes a list of chocolate companies using the fair trade standards. You find the list here.

To learn more about the efforts being led by Green America and other stakeholders, visit the Green America website here

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