To champion the end of child slavery and child labor in the cacao and chocolate business. To lead by example and pay first world living wages to farmers & workers. To give back more than we take.
Most cocoa farmers earn less than $1 per day, an income below the extreme poverty line. As a result, they often resort to the use of child labor to keep their prices competitive.
CHILD LABOR AND SLAVERY IN THE CHOCOLATE INDUSTRY
-By FOOD IS POWER
Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean, which grows primarily in the tropical climates of Western Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The cacao bean is more commonly referred to as cocoa, so that is the term that will be used throughout this article. Western African countries, mostly Ghana and the Ivory Coast, supply about 70% of the world’s cocoa. The cocoa they grow and harvest is sold to a majority of chocolate companies, including the largest in the world.
In the past few decades, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor, and in some cases slavery, on cocoa farms in Western Africa. Child labor has been found on cocoa farms in Cameroon, Guinea, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, although since most of Western Africa’s cocoa is grown in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, the majority of child labor cases have been documented in those two countries.
In recent years, evidence has also surfaced of both child labor and slavery on cocoa farms in Brazil. Cocoa workers there face many of the same abuses as those on the cocoa farms of Western Africa.
Aside from cocoa production in Western Africa and Brazil, a significant amount of cocoa is also grown in other parts of Latin America. While it remains possible that some cocoa farms in these places may employ child labor or slavery, at this time, neither practice has been documented as prevalent on cocoa farms outside of Western Africa and Brazil.
Over the years, the chocolate industry has become increasingly secretive, making it difficult for reporters to not only access farms where human rights violations still occur, but to then disseminate this information to the public. In 2004, the Ivorian First Lady’s entourage allegedly kidnapped and killed a journalist reporting on government corruption in its profitable cocoa industry. In 2010, Ivorian government authorities detained three newspaper journalists after they published an article exposing government corruption in the cocoa sector.
The farms of Western Africa and Brazil supply cocoa to international giants such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestlé as well as many small chocolate companies—revealing the industry’s direct connection to the worst forms of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery.
Poverty: the chief cause of child slave labour
Cocoa-growing households earn $0.78 a day, less than one third of what the Fairtrade International defines as a living income of $2.51
The answer to the first question is simple: poverty. Already poor, smallholder farmers have been hit by a slump in global prices over the last few years. On average, cocoa-growing households earn $0.78 a day, less than one third of what the Fairtrade International defines as a living income of $2.51.
“Until we address the poverty issue and raise farmers out of poverty, then this will continue to be a problem,” says Timothy McCoy, vice president of the World Cocoa Foundation, an industry-backed membership body.
It’s not just about price at the farm gate, says McCoy. Plots are often too small, plants too old and agricultural methods too dated to make cocoa farming profitable. His view for the future is phlegmatic: “If there was an easy solution to this, then we would have solved it a long time ago and moved on.
Global sales in 2023 to reach over 7 million tonnes
The global volume of sales of chocolate confectionery products is projected to grow by 1% from 7.544 million tonnes in 2022 to 7.610 million tonnes in 2023 with North America and Pacific Asia being the regions contributing the most to the increase in demand for chocolate confectionery products over the period.
-International Cacao Association
The global Cocoa Beans market is anticipated to reach USD 12110 million by 2030
The global Cocoa Beans market was valued at USD 8847.6 million in 2023 and is anticipated to reach USD 12110 million by 2030, witnessing a CAGR of 4.1% during the forecast period 2023-2030. The influence of COVID-19 and the Netherlands-Ukraine War were considered while estimating market sizes
Debunking "FAIR TRADE"
Fair Trade claims: "When farmers can sell on Fair Trade terms, it provides them with a better deal and improved terms of trade. This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future".
Lies. Just a bunch of lies.
After an extensive research, now I am able to tell you WHY.For cocoa, lets consider 2 main facts:
90 to 95% of cacao is produced by small farmers who work 3 hectares of land or less.
Fair Trade does not certify individual farmers, but only cooperatives.
Single cocoa farmers are definitely too small, produce too little and are too poor to have the resources to find buyers and establish a supply chain to deliver their cacao. Therefore, cacao industry in developing countries is made out of COOPERATIVES to which single farmers can adhere to have a chance to sell their cacao. Cooperatives have managers and leaders (that are NOT laborers, but just landowners) that among other things are responsible for administrating the money coming into the cooperative's treasury and especially for paying the single farmers.
The fairness proclaimed by Fair Trade should be found in their pricing system. They guarantee a Minimum Price - which is a fix price at which Fair Trade farmers can sell their cacao without being affected by market fluctuations (like guaranteeing minimum wage, thank you! And for the record it has been below the market price for years) - and also give a Premium - an extra payment x lbs over the market only for the cacao that farmers are able to sell as "Fair Trade Certified".
WHO is this extra money paid to?
Since Fair Trade does not certify individual farmers but only cooperatives, the extra money goes to cooperatives. This is because cooperatives are supposed to spend that money in "social projects" that would benefit the entire community. From starting schools, to building infrastructures, to establishing health programs, to providing harvesting tools and education, and so on. All to improve the farmers' quality of life. This would be so nice in theory.
Problem is that the "extra" money (all that is left after Fair Trade tremendously high membership fees, otherwise 64% of Fair Trade income wouldn't be made out of membership fees) has to pass through the hands of the cooperative's leaders BEFORE reaching the farmers. This means that farmers are seeing very very little of it. Any clue of the level of corruption in West Africa that accounts for 70% of the global cocoa production? Ever heard of the African Cocoa Mafia? You got the idea. The cooperative decides how that money gets spent, and how that money gets spent is none of Fair Trade problems.
So whenever you buy Fair Trade, YOU ARE NOT PAYING MORE TO THE FARMERS, but to cooperatives that God only knows what they do with that extra money.
Interviews to cocoa farmers and reports on the matter reveal a shocking picture.