Child Labor In Cocoa Production and Fair Trade Chocolate
By Sarah Kopperl
I have always had a love affair with chocolate. When I was little I thought the best job in the world would be to be a chocolatier, and have my own candy shop. I often visited Hershey P.A. and went to Hershey World, never wondering why they didn’t tell us much about how the cocoa was grown and harvested, only looking forward to the chocolate bar at the end of the “How Chocolate is Made” ride, and the roller coasters to come. As I have grown up, my intentions for a career have changed, but my love of chocolate has stayed. During the summer I took a course that had me researching commodities in South American countries and came across an article about child labor in chocolate production, which is discussed in more detail below. Since then I have tried to buy mostly fair trade chocolate, but didn’t really think too hard about it. Because of this project, I have dug into what Fair Trade is, why it is needed, and the underlying causes of child labor in cocoa farming communities. It made me think past the candy bar to the process of making it. Corporate Websites:
The corporate websites I looked at were hesrheys.com, and usa.cadbury.com. Through the corporate websites I was hoping to learn about where their cocoa comes from, how chocolate is made, and some statistics on chocolate. I was also hoping to see how the companies are working towards sustainable cocoa crops and if they are Fair Trade or if they are doing anything to support fair wages and better living conditions for cocoa farmers.
Hershey’s has a printer and user friendly section on how chocolate is made which talks very little about how cocoa is grown and harvested, focusing more on how cocoa is processed. (4) The site also links directly to the Hershey Company website which is separate from the site that would come up if searched in google. This is where the mission statement, information for investors, and a section on corporate responsibility are available. The company signed a protocol in 2001 to ensure children are not being harmed through cocoa production but both websites fail to state where the majority of their cocoa comes from. It also discusses supporting ECHOES and ICI to work towards sustainability and fair practices for cocoa farmers, but none of the cocoa used is Fair Trade Certified. (5) At my grocery store, Hershey bars are sold for less than a dollar, which is often the cheapest chocolate bar I can find. This makes me wonder if by flexing its corporate muscle, Hershey is forcing desperate farmers to use child labor and treat all workers poorly.
The Cadbury brand was recently acquired by Kraft, but still maintains a separate website from the massive corporation. The website fails to really explain how chocolate is made or where it comes from, but does give some incite as to when chocolate first went commercial and then corporate. It is one of the older companies out there, starting in 1825. The section about what the company strives for explains quite a bit about how cocoa farmers wind up being exploited and why child labor isn’t a surprise in the industry, since the focus is growth, efficiency, and capability. The website is upstanding in that it has a strong section on corporate responsibility, stating that Cadbury in the UK and Ireland are fair-trade certified, as is the cocoa used to make Green and Black, one of the offshoot brands of Cadbury. This portion of the site also discusses the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, which is working with the United Nations to improve farmer outcomes and develop communities. I also found some nifty facts in random places, such as how much cocoa is used by the company annually. The facts are not static, the pop up each time you move to a new section of the site. (6) I felt like the Cadbury site was a good example of a corporation responding to customer demand by moving towards fair...