A Way Forward in the Chocolate Industry to Address Environmental Issues and Child Labor Affected by Pesticide Exposure

A young family in their new, freshly deforested cocoa farm near Blolequin. The children work in the cocoa fields and have never been to school. Photo credit: Mighty Earth

Crack cocoa pods to get cocoa beans in Ivory Coast Photo credit: Fuzz Kitto

Bags of cocoa collected at Cocoa Coop Côte d’Ivoire Photo credit: Fuzz Kitto

Investigation reveals good chocolate producers and laggards Charities call to stop poisoning children 29 organizations collaborate to help the public buy responsibly

If companies started paying farmers properly, they could get a living income, there would be fewer children forced to work in cocoa production, and fewer farmers would chip away at dangerous pesticides.

—Fuzz and Carolyn Kitto

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, April 7, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ — • New Survey Reveals Good Producers and Chocolate Industry’s ‘Bad Eggs’
• Charities call on group of companies that dominate global cocoa production to ‘stop poisoning children’
• 29 organizations collaborate on Chocolate Scorecard to help people shop responsibly

How ethical is your chocolate? As Easter egg season approaches, researchers have assessed the social and environmental impact of the companies that control global cocoa production.

The annual Chocolate Scorecard study surveyed 38 of the world’s largest chocolate companies, including chocolate traders, processors and manufacturers. www.chocolatescorecard.com

These account for 80-90% of global chocolate products, including Easter eggs, and include giants such as Mars, Lindt, Nestlé, Mondelez (Cadbury), Ferrero and Hershey’s.

Alter Eco, based in the United States, Whittaker’s, based in New Zealand, and Tony’s Chocolonely, in the Netherlands, rank high on an ethical level.

Only three companies – Starbucks, General Mills and Storck, maker of Werther’s Original – opted out of the study, foregoing transparency and opting instead to conceal their practices.

The 38 companies were scored on the six most pressing sustainability issues facing the chocolate industry: traceability and transparency; living income policies; child labor; deforestation and climate; agroforestry; and agrochemical management.

Although there have been improvements in many areas since last year’s survey, researchers said there is still a long way to go to fix the problem of around 1.56 million people. children caught up in child labour. This is despite repeated calls to fix the problem and following a major academic study in 2020 revealing the scale of the problem.

Just this week, images emerged of children working with machetes on a cocoa farm that supplies Cadbury owner Mondelez.

“We are not at all surprised that a journalist found child laborers on farms allegedly supplying Mondelez. Our concern is that we won’t find more of these children,” says Fuzz Kitto of Be Slavery Free, the Australia-based charity that coordinated the Chocolate Scorecard.

“Much of the child labor found in West Africa is a hazardous form of child labor, where a child is at risk for example by carrying heavy loads, using dangerous equipment or being exposed to chemicals,” says Fuzz Kitto of Be Slavery Free, the Australia-based charity that coordinated The Chocolate Scorecard.

“Every year the big players in the chocolate industry assure us that they will do something about child labor and the large number of children exposed to chemicals that burn their skin and affect their breathing. We say progress is too slow and they need to stop poisoning children to produce chocolate.

“If companies started paying farmers properly, so they could get a decent income, there would be fewer children forced to work in cocoa production and fewer farmers cutting corners with dangerous pesticides.”

The Chocolate Scorecard focuses on production and supply chains that start in West Africa, where around 75% of the world’s cocoa is produced.

“We are often asked which chocolate is the most ethical to eat, so we always seek to name and publicize rather than name and shame. This way, consumers can see what looks best,” says Fuzz Kitto.

This year, Ferrero joins the list of companies, including Hershey’s, Unilever and Ritter, whose cocoa is almost 100% certified by the Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade.

“While certification isn’t perfect,” says Fuzz Kitto, “it’s often a positive first step in a company’s sustainability journey.”

Storck, Starbucks and General Mills received the researchers’ “broken egg” for their persistent refusal to cooperate with The Chocolate Scorecard. Storck received the worst overall rating and received this year’s rotten egg for its lack of transparency over its policies and practices in its cocoa supply chain, and in light of civil society complaints to the against the company.

“If they make progress in increasing the sustainability of their chocolate supply chains, we, and their customers and investors, would love to hear about it.” Kitto said.

One positive element that researchers have discovered this year is the massive increase in commitment to cocoa production within an agroforestry system, in which cocoa and other trees are grown together. This system has many benefits, maintaining cocoa yields while helping farmers diversify – and restoring and enhancing local biodiversity at the same time.

Nestlé stands out not only for its distribution in 2021 of more than one million shade trees and its promise of another million shade trees in 2022 in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, but also by a reforestation program to plant 20 million trees each year for the next 10 years in the area where it sources its ingredients.

The annual survey and its dissemination is a collaboration between 29 organizations around the world, including Australia’s Macqaurie University and the University of Wollongong, and The Open University (UK) as research partners, and groups non-profit.

According to Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO of Unseen: “When confronted with child labor issues, people often feel overwhelmed by the problem and ask, ‘What can I realistically do?’ The Chocolate Dashboard is a great way to help consumers choose wisely and eat chocolate this Easter with a clearer conscience. »

For all press inquiries, photos and expert quotes, contact
• Australia Fuzz Kitto (Australia Eastern Time) +61 (0) 407 931 115 fuzz.kitto@beslavyfree.com (English)
• UK Dominic Murphy (UK time) +44 (0)7943 498239 d.murphy@unseenuk.org (English)
• Europe Esta Steyn (Central European Time) +31 6 3457 1595 esta.steyn@beslavyfree.com (Dutch, Afrikaans)
• United States Etelle Higonnet (US Eastern Time), +1 202 848 7792. Etelle.Higonnet@gmail.com (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German)
• Japan Roger Smith (US Eastern Time), roger@mightyearth.org (Japanese)

About the survey: https://chocolatescorecard.com/methodology

Be Slavery Free research team, Macquarie University (Australia), Wollongong University (Australia) The Open University (UK)

Subject matter consultants, Forest Trends, International Cocoa Initiative, Pesticide Action Network, Sudwind Institute,

VOICE network
Partners Abolishion, ACRATH, Asset Campaign, Baptist World Aid Australia, Child Labor Coalition, EcoCare Ghana, Estwatch, European Freedom Network, Freedom United, Green America, JATAN, El Llamado del Bosque, Mighty

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