Bitter Sweet Chocolate For Child Workers in Cocoa Industry

I was chatting with Keith Don from World Vision Australia during Easter when the topic of chocolate inevitably came up. Keith told me that the chocolate industry has a dark side which few people know about…

Almost 3/4 of the world’s chocolate uses cocoa beans sourced from West Africa.

Instead of being able to go to school and play with their friends like Australian children – about 250,000 children work on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, routinely carrying heavy loads and working with fire, chemicals and knives, with little or no protection.

Over the last 10 years, the international media has started to expose the use of child labour in the cocoa industry.

Some media reports have claimed that in the worst cases children as young as six are being forced to work 80-100 hours a week, enduring beatings and malnutrition.

Be An Informed Chocolate Buyer!

It’s going to take time to eradicate child exploitation and trafficking in cocoa farms. As a community of informed consumers, we can make a difference by using our purchasing power to buy Fairtrade & Ethical chocolate and make it loud and clear to manufacturers that we demand ethically manufactured chocolate – free of child exploitation

Buying chocolate with Fairtrade certification is one way to ensure that chocolate you are eating is ethical

Look for the Fairtrade logo and the text “Guarantees a better deal for Third World Producers” as seen below on a block of Green & Blacks Fairtrade chocolate:

Fairtrade Chocolate

There are also other kinds of ethical chocolate produced without harming or exploiting people. Groups such as Endangered Species, Darrell Lea Easter Chocolate Bilbies and much of the chocolate produced in Australia with Australian ingredients would also fit into this category.

Read the the Good Chocolate Guide to find out the brands and stockists of ethical chocolate as well as how to pressure your local department store and supermarkets to stock more ethical chocolate, including Fairtrade chocolate – they need to know there’s a demand for it.

5 thoughts on “Bitter Sweet Chocolate For Child Workers in Cocoa Industry”

  1. I have tried Green’s chocolate and couldn’t think of a better excuse to try the dark chocolate with spices and orange! Love the Darrell Lea biblies too. Although, I still remember buying Jeremy one his first year in Australia after arriving from the USA and him being horrified at the evil-looking “bunny” I have given him.

    This post I found interesting as I only discovered the same issues this month when researching for a lecture I gave on chocolate production for a Microbiology course at university.

    The cacao beans chocolate is produced from need to be fermented for 5-7 days after harvesting. Interestingly, the microbes that ferment the beans are naturally present from the environment the beans grow in, including on the machetes the workers use to cut open the cacao pods.

    The fermentation is simply done in piles with banana leaves and the beans are dried on the ground afterwards. The process is done in such a traditional way and is very manual intensive, but in this process critical microbes are introduced.

    We do not know all the microbial species that play a role in the fermentation process and therefore cannot inoculate a batch of beans in a factory environment. It is horrifying that children are exploited in the region you refer to and I hope a further awareness means these children are taken out of this situation.

    Due to the manual nature of the production process, I suspect workers in other regions, although not children, are often not treated as fairly as we would expect either. Identifying how to industrialise the fermenting process would mean the loss of their livelihood, but hopefully companies and organisations like the ones you mention will work toward a better solution.

  2. I’m amazed at how much oppression Africa still faces. I hear about malaria and AIDS awareness all the time, but I had no idea that our chocolate had such a negative impact on them as well. Our world is nuts.

  3. It is necessary to pressurize these manufacturers who deal in these practices. I have seen documentaries on cocoa farms and chocolates and their processes. I think its time these issues are highlighted as well.

  4. Its hard to believe that most of the thing we consume as Americans most likely come from some form of child labor. I might be wrong here but I thinks a pretty good guess. We do need a change in the way we buy and sell good. Child labor is out of control

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