Child Labor and Cocoa is Still a Huge Problem
Halloween conjures up images of costumes, monsters, scary stories, and of course - lots and lots of chocolate candy. While those of us in the United States enjoy the explosion of chocolate treats around the holiday, the reality behind how cocoa, one of chocolate’s main ingredients, is produced is far from enjoyable.
About two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa where, according to the U.S. Labor Department statistics, between 1.5–2 million children–some as young as five–are engaged in dangerous labor in cocoa-growing regions. The majority of the world’s cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast and Ghana. These two West African countries supply about 70% of the world’s cocoa beans which is the main raw ingredient for the bars and goodies made by companies like Hershey, Mars, and Nestlé. Under a 2001 protocol approved by Congress, eight of these industry giants agreed to uproot 70% of the worst forms of child labor by 2020 in their supply chains with interim targets in 2005, 2010, and 2015—all deadlines they have missed with no significant financial or legal consequences.
Some of the child laborers who have endured these conditions are now fighting back. 8 children have filed a lawsuit against the biggest players in the chocolate industry through the human rights firm International Rights Advocates. It is the first time that a class action of this kind has been filed against the cocoa industry in a US court. Citing research by the US state department, the International Labour Organization and Unicef, among others, the court documents allege that the plaintiffs’ experience of child slavery is mirrored by that of thousands of other minors.
Choose Fair Trade
One solution to combat these evils in our supply chains is to choose fair trade chocolate options. Fair Trade means dignified work for people & communities, fair prices for products, fair labor conditions, environmental sustainability, and economic empowerment. Many Fair Trade producers directly reinvest their profits into strengthening their communities and improving working conditions. Supporting Fair trade means supporting a drive for change and creating tangible differences in the lives of the people producing the cocoa for the chocolate we consume.
Try Fair Trade Chocolate
By supporting Fair Trade, you support a global movement for social, economic and environmental justice. Check out the options below for a fair trade chocolate this Halloween:
Any other favorite fair trade chocolate resources that we missed? Share in the comments below!