THE international chocolate industry is failing to uphold its pledge to end the worst forms of child labour and human trafficking behind our favourite treats, a new report by leading humanitarian agencies World Vision, Stop the Traffik and Baptist World Aid reveals.
The report, “A Matter of Taste – The Impact of Certification Systems”, estimates that despite the existence of successful ethical certification systems, more than 2 million children are currently working as labourers in the cocoa harvesting industry in West Africa.
Whilst robust mechanisms to help end exploitation in the chocolate supply chain exist through independent third-party verification bodies, like Fairtrade, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance, the promises made by many chocolate producers to sustainably source 100% of their chocolate products by 2020 are still largely off-course.
“How is it acceptable that any of the chocolate we enjoy here in Australia has forced, child and trafficked labour behind it?” said Carolyn Kitto, Director of Stop the Traffik Australia.
According to the report, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ offer proven methods for industry to better the conditions of those who make our chocolate. These measures increase farmers’ living wage, improve working conditions, minimise child labour and human trafficking, and provide worker empowerment.
Yet the existence of multiple certification schemes has often received criticism from consumers and companies alike, for being confusing and inaccessible due to the different approaches they take to addressing supply chain transparency.
“This report reveals what we’ve long believed – that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to ending exploitation – but ethical certification schemes remain the most credible assurance against forced, child and trafficked labour. With excellent certification systems available for chocolate manufacturers today, there really is no excuse for chocolate companies to miss their 2020 commitments,” said Gershon Nimbalker, Advocacy Manager at Baptist World Aid.
The report highlights that there is still room for improvement, including ensuring living wages are paid to farm owners and workers.
“It will require collaborative work from committed chocolate companies and certification schemes to realise the changes necessary to ensure that the most vulnerable people in the supply chain of chocolate products are fairly rewarded”, said Ruth Dearnley, World Vision Australia’s Advocacy Manager.
The coalition is calling on Australians to throw their support behind the issue and ask retail groups Wesfarmers (Coles, Target and Kmart) and Woolworths (Woolworths and Big W) to achieve 100% of the Easter products they stock being certified and labelled by 2020.
“We know that the public want to buy more ethical chocolate, but they struggle to find it if the major retailers don’t stock it on the shelves. We are calling on Aussies to sign our petition encouraging the supermarket giants to stock more ethically certified products, so they can purchase more ethical chocolate in the future,” said Ms Dearnley.
Since 2008, World Vision Australia has been calling on the global chocolate industry to eradicate the use of forced, child and trafficked labour from their cocoa supply chains. Eight years later, positive steps have been taken by Nestle, Ferrero, Lindt, Mars and Haigh’s, however collectively the chocolate industry has repeatedly failed its milestone goals to be child labour free.
Which companies have made commitments to source 100% ethically certified cocoa?
– Cadbury (Mondelez): NO – percentage of ethically sourced cocoa undisclosed
– Nestle: YES – 100% of Australian produced chocolate bars and beverages are certified with UTZ
– Ferrero: YES by 2020 – as of 2014, 40% is currently ethically sourced
– Lindt: YES by 2020 – percentage of ethically sourced cocoa undisclosed
– Mars: YES by 2020 – percentage of ethically sourced cocoa undisclosed