Slavery has been linked to the supply chains of many everyday products and commodities, including shoes, electronics, cocoa, and cotton.
The chocolate we so enjoy comes from the hands of a child not much older than 11/ Would you still buy it? Could you enjoy it as much? Or would you just turn around and bury your head in proverbial chocolate-filled sand and not hear or see what was going on around you?
In a very in-depth report from The Washington Post, reporters Peter Whoriskey and Rachel Siegel found that child labor is still widely used in the chocolate industry. Despite the deadlines and agreements from major companies (Hershey’s, Nestlé, Mars) to remove children from the cacao farms by 2010, it has been estimated that over 2 million children are still present there. From The Washington Post: “About two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa where, according to a 2015 U.S. Labor Department report, more than 2 million children were engaged in dangerous labor in cocoa-growing regions.”
These previously mentioned chocolate giants pledged 20 years ago to eradicate child labor from their farms. Given the fact that the chocolate industry brings in at least $60 billion (The Washington Post says $106 billion), you would think that this would be an attainable goal. It’s been 20 years, right? The response from Hershey, Nestlé, and Mars, when asked if child labor was used for their chocolate, was unanimous: they could not guarantee that child labor was not used. https://bit.ly/3lVqphF
Many of the cocoa plantations were established where rainforests used to grow. Ivory Coast, one of the world’s biggest cocoa suppliers, has lost almost all of its forests, including some of the last habitats of the critically endangered chimpanzee. Even national parks are being cut for cocoa production. In Peru’s Amazon region, hundreds of hectares of untouched forests have been destroyed.