With Halloween just around the corner, you might be picking up some spooky treats during your next trip to the grocery store. The Washington Post asked experts how consumers can make more socially and environmentally conscious candy choices for this year’s festivities.
Learn about the impact of chocolate
Cocoa and palm oil are two of the key ingredients that make most chocolate treats so delicious. But the production of these commodities has adverse impacts on workers, farming communities and the land.
Child labor is prevalent in these sectors, and forced labor occurs too. Farmer poverty is a main driver of child labor and forced labor in cocoa. With farmers earning $1 per day or less, they often cannot afford laborers.
In recent years, major chocolate companies have taken steps to improve farmer income and address labor abuses in their cocoa supply chains. However, not all of the cocoa companies source is traced back to farms, meaning tackling environmental and social harms at farm-level is difficult.
The farming of cocoa and palm oil is also driving deforestation and other environmental challenges.
A boycott isn’t the answer
Boycotting all chocolate would not resolve the issues farming communities face. John Buchanan, vice president of sustainable production for Conservation International, told The Washington Post:
If there isn’t a market for cocoa, [cocoa farmers] are going to be even worse off, so you’re certainly not going to deal with challenges like child labor by taking away a key source of income.
So, how can we shop better this Halloween? Environmental and human rights expert Etelle Higonnet recommends that shoppers consult resources like the 2022 Chocolate Scorecard, which ranks the brands that source 92% of the world’s cocoa on criteria such as child labor, living income and deforestation.
Join the campaign
The Freedom United community urges chocolate companies to commit to greater traceability and transparency, to address child labor and forced labor, and to tackle deforestation and the use of harmful agrochemicals.
Join us in holding the industry accountable! Sign the petition today.