Love Chocolate at fairchocolate.org is a resource that spreads awareness about and promotes activism to eliminate the use of children as slave labor in the cocoa industry.
Partial text from the "So you Love Chocolate" brochure, originally published in 2006:
(Please note that the information below is several years old and may be inaccurate. For more up-to-date information, see here.)
Due to increased poverty, changing traditions, and corrupt governments, Africa is rampant with child slavery in many areas.
Côte dIvoire produces 43% of the worlds chocolate, and employs over 200,000 [update: 284,000] children in cocoa, coffee, and cotton (Global Exchange, 2005).
Suffering economies demand cheap labor, leaving parents unable to support large families. Families are bribed to give up their children, promised that paychecks will be sent back, or the workers are simply kidnapped and trafficked to plantations.
There the children are subject to horrible conditions, abuse, and punishment for any resistance. Those who manage to escape are shunned and must find work on their own, creating a new kind of orphan.
If this generation of workers is paid decent wages, they are more likely to afford education and a childhood for their children that does not include the violence they endured.
Major chocolate manufacturers are aware of the atrocities occurring daily on many cocoa plantations in West Africa. In 2001 the Harkin-Engel Protocol was proposed, setting labor standards, monitoring, and certification for chocolate farms.
But this is only in writing. Little progress has been made in the industry: the companies choose to ignore this issue, their representatives have no data to present, and because the companies are so large, they can get away with this not-so-secret horror.
U.S. law "prohibits the importation of products made with forced or indentured child labor under Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. § 1307 (1997)" (International Labor Rights Fund, 2004).
Some major companies that knowingly use chocolate produced by slave labor:
- Hauser Chocolates
- and others...
Please remember that companies carry several lines of candy — read the label to determine the parent company! (eg. Snickers is made by M&M/Mars)
Fair Trade Chocolate
There are many companies that make an effort to only purchase fair trade cocoa, often from South American farms instead of West African ones. Most of these companies make organic, high quality chocolate bars that distinguish them from possible slave-made, mass-produced cheap chocolate. Although these chocolates are more expensive, buying them supports labor rights and human dignity, which is worth the price.
Fair trade companies are more likely to be found in grocery stores that make organic or fair trade foods their mission. Try looking in local stores, family owned markets, or chains like Whole Foods and Trader Joes.
Some companies that do not use chocolate produced by slave labor:
- Green & Blacks
- Global Exchange Chocolate
- Newmans Own Organics
- Clif Bar
- The Endangered Species Chocolate Co.
- Montezumas Chocolates
- and more!
Look for a Fair Trade Certified logo (transfairusa.org) that may appear on some products, and not only on chocolate!
Sources in "links" section.