Help end child labour in the cocoa industry!

This post was cross-posted on the fair&good Journal

Did you know that 20% of the world’s cocoa is produced by children? Some of them have been trafficked from neighbouring countries, but most of them are just working for their own parents. There’s not much money in cocoa, and parents often have to put their kids to work just to keep the family afloat.

boy with basket of cocoa pods on head

Image credit Fortune.com

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Producing cocoa is hard work. Not only does it keep the kids out of school, it also often leaves them with life-long injuries: hernias from carrying heavy loads on their heads, or nasty cuts from machetes. Kids trapped in child labour also frequently report being lonely: it’s sad to have to go to the plantation with your parents, when other kids get to hang out together at school.

Chocolate companies can make a real difference for those kids by choosing to buy from child-labour-free suppliers. Those suppliers work with cocoa growers not only to check no kids are working on the farms, they also help improve incomes so parents don’t need to put their kids to work in the first place. This coming Sunday, June 12th, is World Day Against Child Labour. Let’s use that to encourage chocolate companies to buy from suppliers like that! Then those suppliers can bring more farms into their programmes, leaving more kids free to be kids :-)

How? Check out Just Kai’s slave-free cocoa guide. Is your favourite chocolate brand on the list? If so, fantastic! Why don’t you write to them and let them know how pleased you are they’ve committed to child-labour free suppliers?

Or maybe your favourite brand isn’t there? Write to them, too! Ask them what they’re doing to make sure their supply chain is free of child labour. If they’re not already, suggest they move to a cocoa supplier with Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certification, a Samoan supplier, or a supplier that’s a member of the WFTO.

Here are some words you might use.

For a brand that’s on the list:

Kia Ora,

[Name of brand/product] is my favourite chocolate, and I’m so pleased to see you use Rainforest Alliance/Fairtrade/Samoan/WFTO [delete the irrelevant ones] cocoa in it. It’s sad that so many kids have to work on cocoa plantations just so their families can survive. Thank you for choosing to support responsible suppliers who don’t exploit children!

Kind regards,

[your name]

For a brand that’s not on the list:

Kia Ora,

[Name of brand/product] is my favourite chocolate, but I’ve just been looking at Just Kai’s slave-free cocoa guide and I notice your brand isn’t on it. Did you know that 20% of the cocoa produced in the world is produced by children? That’s not something I want to support. Are you checking your cocoa supply chain to make sure there are no children working on the plantations that grow your cocoa? If not, could I suggest that you move to a cocoa supplier with Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certification, or a supplier that’s a member of the WFTO? That way you’ll know that people are checking no kids are working on the farms, and that parents are earning a bit more so they’re less likely to need to send their kids to work.

I would really appreciate you considering this.

Kind regards,

[your name]