The efforts of the world’s major chocolate companies are not equal when it comes to rooting out child labor and deforestation from their supply chains.
According to a new scorecard just released by Green America, many companies are failing to address the problem. Godiva was rated the worst — scoring an F — while Ferrero and Mondelez were marginally better, both earning Ds.
An estimated 1.6 million children work in the cocoa industry, which is largely centered in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. But big brands still aren’t doing enough to ensure this tainted cocoa doesn’t make it into their supply chains.
“This Halloween and every day, children should be able to enjoy candies that aren’t made by child laborers,” said Charlotte Tate, Green America’s labor justice manager.
“Big brands must do more to tackle these issues, and buying ethically sourced chocolate is one way for consumers to put pressure on brands to change their practices.”
Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:
Mars and Nestle were rated slightly better than Lindt and Hershey, while seven smaller companies received the best grade, including Alter Eco, Divine and Tony’s Chocolonely.
Godiva, which received the worst ranking, said it purchases cocoa through third parties which put it at a scoring disadvantage.
“We ensure ethical sourcing through agreements with our suppliers to comply with our GODIVA Code of Conduct, which explicitly prohibits the use of forced and child labor,” a company spokeswoman said in an email.
Most major chocolate companies are working to increase the proportion of their cocoa that is certified as ethical by groups such as Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance, or through their own certification programs.
Green America added that it’s not enough to just buy certified chocolate; companies should also be striving to raise farmers’ incomes and support local communities.
According to International Cocoa Initiative, cocoa farmers earn less than $2 a day — below the World Bank’s poverty line — which is part of the reason why cheap child labor is employed in the industry.
The governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast have also criticized chocolate companies for focusing on their own sustainability plans instead of helping implement a payment plan called the living income differential (LID), which the two countries introduced this year to address farmer poverty.