Morgon Solomon

Chocolate:The Truth Behind It

2.3 million kids work in the cocoa fields of Ghana and Cote d’ivoire. These children suffer through extreme and brutal labor. In a documentary that aired on the BBC, filmmakers interviewed young boys in the Ivory Coast who said they’d been beaten and forced to work long hours without pay. One who said he’d been working on a cocoa farm for five years was asked what he thought about people enjoying chocolate in other parts of the world. “They are enjoying something that I suffered to make,” the boy said. Over 70% of the world’s cocoa beans come from West Africa, and the economics of West African governments rely heavily on the export of cocoa. The farms of Western Africa supply cocoa to international giants such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle- revealing the industry’s direct connection to the worst forms of child labor. 

Some children are sold into this business, some even by their own family’s in order to earn money. While some are told “The job pays well” and are lied to by farmers or others. If the owners can not find any children or workers, some abduct the young children from small villages in neighboring African countries, such as Burkina Faso and Mali. Once they have been taken to the cocoa farms, the children may not see their families for years, and maybe never. Most of the children laboring in cocoa fields are between the ages of 12 to 16, but reporters have found children as young as 5 who are part of this. Furthermore, 40% of these children are girls, and some stay for a few months, while others end up working on the farms through adulthood. Some of the tools used by these children include chainsaws (for cutting down trees) while other children climb the trees to cut the bean pods with machetes. Children using these large, heavy, and dangerous objects goes against international labor laws.

Some of the companies that use cocoa from slaves include Hershey. Hershey is the top chocolate producer in America, and produces popular candies (such as Reeses’s Peanut Butter cups and York Peppermint Patties). Hershey purchases its chocolate from the Ivory Coast, and has acknowledged that it understands that child labor is implement to make its product. Nestle has also been accused of this. Nestle’s code of conduct prohibits child labor in their practices, however, it has personally done research and found more that 3,000 children are working on the cocoa farms that produce its chocolate. Some of the company’s most popular chocolate bars are Butterfingers and Crunch Bars. Godvia is another popular brand guilty to this. Godiva is one of the leading boxed chocolate brands and sold in stores. Godiva has stated that it plans to purify its supply chain by 2020 but has not stated any concrete steps to make this happen. Godiva’s most popular products include assorted chocolate boxes. Mars is another popular brand that is included in this. Mars produces candies like Twix and Snickers bars. Mars has acknowledged the practice of child labor and has stated that by 2020 none of their chocolate will be made by means of slavery. 

On the contrary to this there are many current brands on the market that are slave free. Some favorites among consumers include Tony’s Chocolonely, Aloha Feels Chocolate, Alter Eco Foods, Viva Cacao!, Chocolate Tree, Sweet Impact Chocolate, Valrhona Chocolate, and Cacao Nibs. One of the most popular, and most common of these is Tony’s Chocolonely. On the website (toneyschocoloneyly.com) it says “Things aren’t being shared evenly in the chocolate supply chain.” The excerpt on the website goes on to explain the problem. Underneath a second section on the website it says “Right now there is slavery on cocoa farms in West Africa. This is a result of the unequally divided cocoa chain. Tony’s Chocolonely exists to change that. Child labor and modern slavery are against the law – it’s illegal and needs to stop.” There are more sections on the website that go on to explain Tony’s route to 100% slave-free chocolate.

A common question that the slave free chocolate brands get is “How does it taste?” Certain brands taste different but a common one called “Cacao Nibs” has many great reviews. Raw Cacao Nibs are crunchy and pretty bitter. Since a lot of mainstream chocolate brands have added sugars most people think that slave free chocolate tastes bitter. Another common question that gets asked is “How can I know that my chocolate is slave free?” There are many ways to determine this. For starters, you can look at the wraper it comes in. They have may certification logos that say “Fair trade” on them. There are many different designs however, they all say Fairtrade so they are quite easy to spot. While these are pretty good references, it’s always good to do your research to make sure that the chocolate is totally slave free.

 Most common fair trade logos