Children thrive on hope.  

Hope that mum will say yes to a play date. Hope that the car ride is nearly over. Hope for a weekend full of sunshine.   

This Easter, as families prepare egg hunts in backyards around Australia, we see that child-like hope spring to life, with the hope of filling a basket with brightly coloured, foil-wrapped chocolate treats. 

Chocolate Shouldn’t Be This Dark

 Sadly, chocolate eggs have a dark side. They can also mean hardship for millions of children around the world. 

The cocoa industry is propped up by vulnerable children who are being exploited as labour. In 2020, 1.5 million children were working on cocoa plantations in Ghana and the Ivory Coast—where more than half the world’s chocolate comes from.  

This number has increased since the pandemic, as rising food prices put pressure on children to work instead of attend school.  

The International Labour Organisation reports that worldwide, 160 million children are engaged in some form of child labour, with 79 million performing hazardous work. Concerningly, progress against child labour has stalled.  

And the sad truth is that without consumer pressure and public scrutiny, very little will change.  

In 2001, chocolate companies signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol, which aimed to reduce child labour by 70 percent across Ghana and the Ivory Coast by 2020. But the industry failed spectacularly, using methods that reached fewer than 20 percent of workers. The lesson is clear: good intentions fade without public pressure.   

This Easter, Choose Ethical Chocolate  

Be Slavery Free releases a useful Chocolate Scorecard every year–surveying companies that make up to 90 percent of the global cocoa industry. The scorecard ranks chocolate companies like Cadbury, Nestle, Lindt and Ferrero based on their performance on human rights issues like child labour and providing a living income, as well as environmental issues such as climate, forestry, and use of chemicals.   

The 2023 scorecard was released 28 March, and gives you the full picture you need for ethical Easter preparations.  

So, if you’re buying eggs this Easter, use the scorecard to choose chocolate brands that keep children safe from exploitation. Share it with your family, friends and church, so we can be better informed as Australian consumers.  

This way, we can help all children thrive on hope, so they can enjoy fullness of life as God intends.  

Hope In A Better World 

At Easter, we remember that Jesus offers the ultimate hope to all of us–including the world’s most vulnerable children.  

1 Peter 1:3 says, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’.   

Jesus’ sacrifice has given humanity ‘new birth into a living hope’—God’s new kingdom of love and justice. Because of him, we have hope for a better world. A world where childhoods are spent in classrooms, not cocoa farms. A world where childhood means nurture, learning and growing, not exploitation and suffering. Where children are not robbed of the opportunity to play, grow, and build their own futures.

As we share Easter’s message of hope with children in Australia, we can also act to help all children experience fullness of life, through what we choose to purchase and consume.

Australian Christians have been doing this for years. Church letter and postcard-writing campaigns were part of the movement that convinced Cadbury to release its first Fairtrade certified chocolate block in 2010. Since then, the Advocacy Team at Baptist World Aid, along with others, have continued to push the chocolate industry away from a race to the bottom on worker conditions. Companies now compete to have the most sustainable brand.   

And this means we have real power as consumers to choose brands that don’t exploit children, no matter how delicious the chocolate is.  

This article was adapted from a piece originally written by Will Mezner.