For over 10 years now, you’ve been helping us campaign to end child labour in the chocolate industry.

Every Easter, we join with our friends at Be Slavery Free (formerly Stop the Traffik) and call on major chocolate companies to eradicate child labour from their supply chains. We’ve asked them to take steps to certify their cocoa, invest in strong monitoring and remediation systems, and ensure that their farmers receive a living income so they aren’t enticed to use child labour.

As a movement, you’ve signed postcards, sent emails, had conversations with store managers, and raised awareness in your churches. But after so many years of campaigning, are we seeing any changes in the industry? Is your campaigning making a difference?

That answer, soon. But first, a quick recap of child labour in the cocoa industry over the last two decades… in two minutes.


The Issue: Child Labour in the Cocoa Industry

The majority of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, a region notorious for the use of child labour on cocoa farms. The 2018 Cocoa Barometer Report found that approximately two million children are working on cocoa plantations in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, alone! On some cocoa farms, children as young as eight are trafficked to harvest cocoa beans in extremely dangerous conditions. And instead of attending school, some child labourers work up to 12-hour days.

Poverty, cultural norms, and the low-price farmers receive for their cocoa are just some of the key drivers associated with the use of child labour. In 2018, Fairtrade International found that the average daily income of a cocoa farmer in Cote d Ivoire was just 0.78c, well below what they would need in order to provide for themselves and their families (a sum which is called a “living wage”); and well below what they would need to earn in order to hire adult labourers, instead of children.


The promised solution

Recognising that this was an issue the world could no longer ignore, in 2001, the world’s major chocolate companies promised to eradicate child labour from their supply chain over the following four years. The agreement was known as the “Harkin-Engel Protocol” and it was the first time an entire industry took collective responsibility for addressing the worst forms of child labour in their supply chain.

The agreement was time-bound and prescriptive. A comprehensive six-step problem-solving approach to eliminating child labour in the cocoa industry supply chain.

It was monumental!

Except that… the four-year mark came and went, and child labour still persisted.

So, a new target was set for 2008… which came and went. And child labour still persisted.

Another new target of 2010 was set… but still, the tragic use of child labour on cocoa farms plagued the cocoa industry supply chain.

Now, next year marks 20 years since these major chocolate companies pledged to eradicate child labour in their supply chains… but are we really any closer to seeing this become reality?


The Answer: Industry Progress

The good news is that we are seeing strong commitments across the board when it comes to strengthening systems to mitigate the risks of child labour in the cocoa supply chain. A couple of the highlights include:

  • Commitments from a number of major chocolate companies to pay farmers a living wage, including commitments to support the Cote d’Ivoire and Ghanese governments’ new Living Income Differential to ensure farmers receive a fair price for their cocoa.
  • three out of the six major chocolate companies have timebound and solid commitments to have Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Schemes across 100% of their sourced cocoa farms (Nestle, Mondolez and soon, Mars).
  • Many companies (including Mars, Lindt, Ferrero, and Hershey) now have a goal of sourcing 100% certified cocoa by 2020. (Certification alone does not automatically eradicate child labour in a supply chain but is an important step towards mitigating some of those risks.)

The industry has recognised that it will take a consolidated effort on behalf of governments, businesses, and civil society actors to see real change. We know that living income, child labour monitoring and remediation schemes, auditing, greater traceability and transparency, and community development will all be required in order for child labour in the cocoa supply chain to be eradicated.

So… we know what it’s going to take. Businesses have acknowledged these steps and have made strong commitments towards them… now it’s time to put it all together.


What next?

Brands like Nestle, Haighs, and Darrell Lea have all told us that your voice and public campaigns (including some of our historical Easter campaigns!) have been a key driver in prompting them to improve their supply chain practices.

Now is the time to keep the pressure up!

This Easter, will you join us in calling on the six major chocolate companies to finally make good on their promise to stamp out child labour in the cocoa industry? Will you ask them to put all the pieces together – all of the promises and commitments – and bring about real change, once and for all?

Our friends at Be Slavery Free have a postcard which you can use to send this message to the major chocolate companies. And you can download this Church Guide to help mobilise your community to take action this Easter.

And remember to like our Facebook page for more resources to help you have an ethical Easter in 2020.