In 2009, the US Department of State estimated that over 109,000 children were working in the cocoa industry, with approximately 10% of them being the victims of forced labor or human trafficking.
Over the past two decades there have been many moves on the global scale to eliminate child labor across the cocoa industry (among others), and many of our favorite or go to brands have found themselves in hot water over the subject. Brands like Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle have been found with minimal or non-existent Supplier Codes of Conduct, with a huge percentage of their cocoa being farmed and harvested by not only child labor, but also forced labor and human trafficking victims.
With the situation being brought to the public spotlight in recent years, companies have updated or created these codes of conduct but have failed to make any real progress in addressing the labor rights and policies in their cocoa sourcing. Their lack of transparency has found them in lawsuits after lawsuits over the matter as people become more and more aware of the situation.
So why is this being allowed to happen in today's day and age? Because cocoa is widely sourced from Western Africa, a region plagued by forced labor, human trafficking, and abusive child labor according to the US Department of Labor.
So enter Fair Trade. What is it? Why is it important?
Fair Trade policies not only ensure fair prices, living wages, and community benefits for cocoa farmers and their families in developing countries, but also forbid child and/or forced labor. Not all chocolate companies are committed to ensuring their product is exclusively manufactured with Fair Trade sourced cocoa, but the selection of chocolate that is certified fair trade is growing continuously.
At American Inheritance Confectionery, we proudly stand behind our commitment to sourcing our products from not only Certified Fair-Trade companies, but also companies that are dedicated to ethically and sustainable sourcing. We’ve done our research to ensure that we are indeed providing you a product that isn’t built on the backs of children and/or forced labor.
So this may just be food for thought (or thoughts for food…) but please stop and think about it next time you reach for that Hershey’s or that Kit-Kat bar in the checkout at the grocery store. There could be more at stake than its $1.50 price point.
Interested in reading more? You can find some really great information here!