Consumables:  Cocoa

Cocoa is a bean which is used to produce chocolate. 90% of the world’s cocoa is grown on small family farms who earn their living by growing and selling cocoa beans. Cocoa is a delicate and sensitive crop that must be protected from sun, wind, pests and disease. Despite their hard work, farmers gain very little from global cocoa trade. Even with an increasing demand for cocoa beans and its rising price, farmers do not receive sufficient benefits. They remain in poverty as their income fails to cover household expenses and production costs.

Cocoa farmers in Africa earn very little and resort to cheap labour. Traffickers target the children of families living in poverty, lying to the caregivers  about the circumstances or kidnapping the children. Children work all day in very dangerous conditions. They are typically aged between 12 and 16 but reporters have found children as young as 5. This report by Food is Power details the experiences of children on cocoa farms.

Little has been done by the chocolate industry as a whole to remedy this situation for example by paying farmers a living wage. Although certification for products can be gained, it is difficult to guarantee that child labour is not used so consumers need to ensure that a brand’s certification is justified before purchasing any of their products. There are some resources which will help consumers to do this such as Food is Power’s list of chocolates they do and do not recommend and Stop The Traffik’s “Chocolate Box” tool.