A festive meal that’s good for everyone - isn’t that what we all want? Yet sadly, some of the foods we typically eat at Christmas are produced at terrible cost to people far away. The sugar and cocoa used to make all those sweet treats may well have been grown by slaves. Cocoa is also at high risk for child labour: around 20% of all cocoa produced worldwide is produced by kids who work full-time instead of going to school. And, if you’re ditching the ham and turkey for salmon or seafood, be careful with what you buy: fish is the food we eat that’s most likely to be caught or processed by slaves.

However, do not despair! A Christmas meal that’s good for everyone is possible: click on the links below to find reliable slave-free options. You might also like to check out our accompanying chocolate gifts guide.

Want a quick summary to pull out at the supermarket? Check out our ‌summary flyer (PDF).
Table of Contents

Drinks, juices and cordial

Most soft drinks contain a lot of sugar, an ingredient likely to be produced with slave labour. Fortunately, there are a many widely-available soft drinks that are made with slave-free sugar.Firstly, New Zealand has one soft drink company that sells Fairtrade certified drinks: Karma Drinks. Most of their products are Fairtrade certified (although not their juices or kombucha). They’re also organic. They buy the Kola nuts for their signature Karma Kola direct from the producers in Sierra Leone and have a foundation that funnels a portion of profits into development projects in those communities.

box of karma cans, display of Karma bottles, two individual cans

Karma drinks come in both 300mL bottles and 250mL cans in the following flavours:

  • Karma cola
  • Lemmy lemonade
  • Lemmy lime and bitters (bottles only)
  • Gingerella ginger ale
  • Summer orangeade
  • Razza raspberry lemonade
  • sugar free Karma cola (bottles only)

4-packs of cans (for $7-$10) are available at many supermarkets. In addition, you can buy boxes of 15 x 300mL bottles ($50) and trays of 12 cans ($35) direct from their website; or you can buy singles from various health food shops and supermarkets for around $3-4.

display of Bundaberg, Bickfords, Thextons, Roses, Coke, Schweppes and Keri products

Additionally, many drinks sold in New Zealand are made with Australian sugar - which is slave-free due to the strong employment law in that country. Drinks made with Australian sugar include:

  • sparkling drinks from:

    • Bundaberg. This includes their classic ginger beer, but also a range of sparkling fruit drinks including passionfruit, guava, mango etc.
    • Coca cola. This includes the classic Coca cola soft drinks (Coke, Fanta, Lift, L&P, Sprite) as well as the Schweppes soft drink range.
  • Juice from:

    • Keri (most Keri juices don’t actually include added sugar but those that do - like their cranberry and tomato juices - use Australian sugar).
    • Thextons
  • Cordial from:

    • Roses*- comes in lime and lemon flavours
    • Schweppes
    • Bickfords - which have a number of more adult flavours, such as lemon lime and bitters
  • Iced coffee syrups from:

*Note that some speciality shops also stock Roses cordials manufactured in South Africa, which come in a much wider range of flavours. These are produced by a different company and we do not know if they are made with slave-free sugar. Roses marmalade is also made by a different company and, again, we don’t know if the sugar in those is slave free.


Many snacks, sadly, have slave labour in their supply chains. Here are some slave free options.


broken and shaved pieces of chocolate

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Around 20% of all cocoa is produced by kids. If you want to serve slave-free chocolate, our cocoa list has a large number of options for chocolate blocks. Our 2023 Christmas chocolate guide also covers a wide range of luxury chocolate products that are free of both child and slave labour.

Chocolate sweets

Trade Aid, Smarties, Countdown and Waikato Valley chocolate sweets

We particularly recommend Trade Aid’s range for chocolate sweets as they are certified by a particularly strong certification (WFTO). They have boxes of both mint and orange chocolate sticks (160g) and boxes of both chocolate-coated hazelnuts and cashew nuts (130g), all $9.49 on their website.

In addition, chocolate sweets with Rainforest Alliance certification are widely available. Options include:

The Alison’s Pantry Indulgent range (in the bulk bins at PakNSave and New World) also uses Rainforest Alliance cocoa. Their gingerbread almonds look particularly Christmassy!\ \ See our 2022 Christmas chocolate guide for further options.


a selection of Griffins chocolate biscuits and Arnotts sweet biscuits

All Griffins chocolate biscuits* are made with Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa - that includes Christmas favourites such as mallowpuffs and toffeepops.

*with the exception of their cameo cremes, which are made in an overseas factory.

All Arnotts biscuits, including their Farmbake, Arno and Creme shortbreads and their Scotch fingers are all made with slave-free Australian sugar.

Our gifting chocolate guide also lists chocolate biscuit sampler boxes.


Arnotts cheeseboard box

Just Kai focuses on fish, cocoa and sugar, the foods at highest risk of slavery in their supply chain. However, we are aware that slave labour is used in many of the ingredients used to make crackers - especially tomatoes and palm oil. If you’re serving crackers, perhaps as part of a cheese board, Arnotts is making excellent efforts to remove slave labour from their cracker supply chain. They sell a cheeseboard sampler box, as well as various crackers and savory biscuits including their cracker chips, sourdough crackers and shapes ranges.

If you’ll be serving smoked salmon on your cheese board, see below for slave-free options.

Dried fruit and nuts

Like crackers, dried fruit and nuts aren’t part of Just Kai’s core focus. However, last year we conducted extensive research into the nut industry. Child labour, forced labour and/or terrible working conditions are common in the hazelnut, cashew and Brazil nut industries.

Starting from the lowest risk products and going through to the highest, we recommend the following.

bowls of pistachios, almonds and walnuts

All almonds, pistachios and walnuts sold in New Zealand will be slave free - you can buy any brand :-)

fresh life macadamias and Mother Earth honey roasted peanuts

Peanuts and macadamia nuts are generally slave free, but not always: to be sure yours are slave free, look for:

Note that not all other products from those brands are slave free.

Yava cashews and Trade Aid chocolate coated cashews

The nuts at highest risk of slavery in their supply chains are cashews, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts.

For cashews, we recommend the Yava range (available at New World or online from The Baron) - these were formerly known as East Bali Cashews. Trade Aid also sells chocolate-coated cashews (available at health food shops as well as directly from Trade Aid), but they don’t currently seem to be selling plain cashews.

For hazelnuts, look for nuts grown in New Zealand, the US or Australia. The hazelnuts in the Alison’s Pantry range (sold in the bulk bins of PakNSave and New World) are currently sourced from the US. Many Kiwi hazelnut orchards sell direct to the public online - Hazelz sells a particularly wide range of products made from NZ-grown hazelnuts.

For Brazil nuts we have yet to find any slave-free options, so Brazil nuts are best avoided.

Just Kai hasn’t looked into dried fruit in detail, so we can’t tell you which fruits are high risk and which are fine regardless of brand. However, we are very confident the Trade Aid range (which includes guava, papaya, pineapple and mango) will be slave free. Their mango is particularly delicious!


Ice cream

Ice cream contains a lot of sugar, and sugar is one of the foods most likely to be produced with slave labour. It also commonly includes cocoa or chocolate: as well as being at risk of slave labour, more than 20% of the world’s cocoa is grown by kids.

To avoid supporting all that when you buy ice cream, our most recommended options are Ben & Jerry’s and Little Island.

Ben and Jerry’s

Not only is the whole Ben & Jerry’s range Fairtrade certified (meaning not just the sugar and cocoa, but also the coffee, bananas and vanilla they use are Fairtrade), they’ve also committed to making sure all their cocoa farmers get a living income. They’ve got a bunch of other awesome values too!

two tubs of Ben and Jerry's ice cream

Ben & Jerry’s do 458mL ice cream tubs in a wide range of flavours, including:

  • Chewy gooey cookie
  • Hazel-nutten but chocolate
  • Chocolate fudge brownie
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough
  • PB over the top

they also do Non-dairy ice cream in:

  • Chocolate fudge brownie
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough
  • Chocolatey love a-fair (a joint release with Tonys Chocolonely)

Ben & Jerry’s are stocked by most supermarkets, as well as many dairies and petrol stations. You can also get online deliveries from them if you’re in Christchurch, or via Uber Eats in much of the rest of the country. Look here for your nearest stockist. Around $10-$14 for a 458mL tub.

Little Island

three tubs of Little Island ice cream

Little Island no longer display the Fairtrade logo on their packaging, but we have learned from correspondence that all their cocoa and all their sugar is Fairtrade certified. They sell 900mL tubs of:

  • chocolate
  • vanilla
  • hokey pokey

as well as further flavours in 450mL tubs and 145mL single-serve cups. Around $12 for 900mL or $10 for 450mL

Stocked at some Countdown and New World supermarkets, as well as health food stores. All Little Island ice creams are also vegan and organic.

Kāpiti, Magnum and Trumpet

Kapiti and magnum tubs and a box of trumpets

If those don’t work for you, we also recommend Trumpet, Kāpiti and Magnum as good slave-free options. Although these don’t use slave-free sugar, they do use Rainforest Alliance certified slave-free cocoa in all their products. Cocoa is the ice cream ingredient most at risk of slavery in its supply chain, making that ingredients slave-free means they’re much lower-risk than their competitors.

These should all be available at your local supermarket. They all have single-serve options that’d be great for your Christmas BBQ; magnums also come in 445mL tubs, Kāpiti in 1L tubs. All three include dairy free/plant based options. Kāpiti’s cookies and cream and both boysenberry and chocolate trumpets also won awards in this year’s ice cream and gelato awards :-)


box of jelly crystals and a moulded jelly

If you want to serve jelly (or are making trifle), the Countdown own brand jelly crystals range are made with slave-free Australian sugar. The jelly crystals come in strawberry, raspberry and lime flavours; around $1.20 for an 85g box.

Baking ingredients

gooey melty chocolate chip cookie

Image credit Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

Christmas is a great time to bake! Fortunately, cocoa and sugar that’s certified free from child and slave labour is readily available throughout New Zealand. For slave free sugar you might need to look around a bit, but slave free cocoa and baking chocolate are available at every supermarket in New Zealand :-)

Check out our section on dried fruit and nuts if you’re using those in your baking, too.


Packets of Trade Aid and Countdown sugar and golden syrup

There are two certifications we trust for slave-free sugar: Bonsucro and WFTO. Both involve thorough audits for child and slave labour on sugar plantations and in sugar mills, although the latter is significantly better for the workers. Bonsucro checks for safe working conditions and ensures workers are paid at least the legal minimum wage for their country; in addition WFTO does a range of things to support small producers.

We also trust Australian-produced sugar, due to the strong labour laws in Australia. You can often identify Australian sugar via. its ‘product of Australia’ labelling.

Countdown own brand sugar has Bonsucro certification. They do white, brown, raw, icing and caster sugar in bags between 500g and 5kg. It’s cheaper than Chelsea :-)

Countdown own brand golden syrup isn’t Bonsucro certified but it is made with Australian sugar, so we recommend that, too.

Trade Aid sells WFTO certified golden granulated sugar in 500g, 1.5kg and 5kg bags ($5.29, $8.99 and $23.99 respectively), as well as 400g bags of muscovado sugar ($6.99). Buy online, from one of their physical stores or from many supermarkets and whole food stores.

Ready-made icing

box of royalty white icing (blue label) and almond icing (gold label)

We’ve contacted a number of ready-made icing brands, and the only one we currently recommend is Royalty. It’s made with Australian sugar. Available widely in both plain and almond flavours, around $5-$6 for a 500g box.


packets of all five cocoa brands mentioned below

We trust three certifications for cocoa products: Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade and WFTO. Structurally these are quite different from each other, but they all guarantee no child labour, no forced labour, safe working conditions etc.

  • Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa is available from Nestle Baker’s Choice (190g tin, around $4-$5) in pretty much any supermarket in the country. If you are concerned about Nestle’s ethics, read up on why we are happy to recommend them. Countdown own brand cocoa is also Rainforest Alliance certified (around $6 for a 375g box), as is The Warehouse’s Market Kitchen brand ($3.60 for 250g).
  • Trade Aid sells WFTO-certified cocoa powder in 200g boxes and 2kg bags ($7.49 and $47.99 respectively). Buy online, from one of their physical stores or from some supermarkets and health food shops.
  • From correspondence, we have learned that Pam’s superfoods raw cacao powder is also Fairtrade certified, even though they have chosen not to display the certification mark. That’s not ideal, but it’s a good option if you’re after a raw cacao powder. It’s about $7.50 for a 250g bag. Note that the regular Pams cocoa is not slave-free, so far as we know.
  • Check out our cocoa list for more options, including those made with Samoan cocoa.

Chocolate chips and baking chocolate

Countdown, Trade Aid, Nestle Baker's Choice and Market Kitchen logos

Using the same three certifications mentioned above (and noting again that some of the Rainforest Alliance certified products are still using the old UTZ logo):

Other baking ingredients

Cacao nibs from Countdown Macro, Pams superfoods and Samaori + Taylor and Colledge vanilla

Shellfish, prawns and salmon

The traditional Kiwi Christmas seems to focus on ham, lamb or turkey, but maybe this year you’re doing something a bit different and serving seafood? Perhaps mussels, or prawns on the BBQ, or baked salmon in place of the traditional roast? Seafood is, sadly, at very high risk of slave labour in its supply chains (even if it’s caught or produced in New Zealand), BUT we’ve found plenty of slave-free options :-)


Most shellfish is slave-free. Our research has found no evidence of any form of slavery or child labour in the New Zealand shellfish industry, with one sole exception. Farmed paua are fed on fishmeal and oil just like salmon, and so have the same risks of slavery in the production of that feed. None of the New Zealand paua farms that we have contacted have replied to our queries so we cannot recommend any of them. However, most of the paua for sale is wild-caught, so this doesn’t limit your options much.


mussels in the shell in a tank

The only mussels likely to be for sale in New Zealand this Christmas are farmed New Zealand green-lipped mussels. These are all slave free and can be purchased with confidence regardless of brand. That goes for mussels in the shell and mussels in all stages of processing.


oyster shell

The only fresh oysters likely to be for sale in New Zealand this Christmas are either farmed or wild-caught in New Zealand (although you can find imported ones tinned). All fresh oysters are slave free and can be purchased with confidence regardless of brand. That goes for oysters in the shell and in all stages of processing.


scallops with the words New Zealand, Peru, Australia and US written over the top

Some of the scallops for sale in New Zealand this Christmas will be wild-caught New Zealand scallops. These will be clearly labelled as such and are definitely slave-free: you can buy them with confidence.

The majority of scallops sold in New Zealand are imported; most of them come from Peru. We are confident the Peruvian scallop industry is slave-free, although it is not technically free of child labour. 17-year-olds are allowed to work on Peruvian industrial fishing boats, which violates ILO regulations against child labour as this is considered hazardous work. However, we do not consider this a major violation and are happy to recommend Peruvian scallops.

Australian and US scallops are also slave-free; however, all other imported scallops should be avoided. The remaining major supply countries (including Japan and the UK) are all at high risk of slave labour in their scallop industries. We have contacted a number of companies supplying such scallops and none have reported seeking any kind of slave-free assurances from their suppliers.

Suitable scallops are widely available. We’ve seen them at the fish counter of New World and online from Gourmet Seafood and Oceans North (although you’ll need to avoid the Chinese and Japanese ones from Oceans North) amongst others. Likely your local fish shop also sells them.


logos for Ocean Pearl and Kingfisher, as well as raw Argentinian prawns

Most prawns are farmed: they are a high-risk product as slavery is common in the production of feed for farmed prawns, on prawn farms and in the processing of prawns. Very few companies that we have contacted have been able to assure us they have a slave-free supply chain. At this stage we can only recommend the following:

For whole prawns (i.e. with their heads and shells intact) any Argentinian red prawns or wild-caught Australian prawns are slave free.

  • wild-caught whole Australian prawns are sold under the Ocean Pearl brand in Countdown supermarkets as well as sometimes under their own brand from the fish counter.
  • Solander sells Australian wild-caught whole banana, tiger and king prawns online.
  • whole Argentinian prawns are available online at Tai Wah. They’re also sometimes sold at the fish counters of PakNSave and New World supermarkets, although we didn’t see them when searching online in late November. in the past. Sometimes they’re labelled ‘red prawns’ or ‘Argentinian red shrimp - they’re fairly easy to recognise as they’re the only prawns that are quite pink when raw.

For processed prawns, the only brand we know of that is checking for forced labour throughout its supply chain is Kingfisher. Kingfisher prawns are sold in PakNSave and New World, and their range includes both raw and cooked prawns and shrimp, all prepeeled.


Whilst the tinned salmon you find in New Zealand supermarkets is typically wild caught, the fresh, frozen or smoked salmon you’ll be serving at Christmas will have been farmed, most likely in New Zealand or Australia. Such farms are at extremely low risk of child or slave labour due to our strong labour laws. However, sadly that doesn’t mean all farmed salmon is slave free. The salmon is fed on a feed that includes both fishmeal and fish oil, both of which are commonly made from fish caught by forced labour. Farmed salmon should only be purchased if the farm ensures their feed has a slave-free supply chain.

logos of Southern Ocean, Regal, Ora King, Huon, Regal, Sanford, High Country Salmon, Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon, Aoraki and Akaroa

Fortunately, all New Zealand salmon farms are now using slave-free feed. We don’t have any concerns that slavery could be being used on the farms themselves, so that means that we are confident all New Zealand farmed salmon is slave free. In addition we are confident that products from Huon (an Australian company whose products you’ll often see in Countdown) are also slave-free.

For branded products, look for the logos of Southern Ocean, Regal, Ora King, Huon, Regal, Sanford, High Country Salmon, Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon, Aoraki or Akaroa or for clear ‘product of New Zealand’ labelling.

For unbranded products (e.g. sushi from a local shop, or fresh salmon from the fish counter in your supermarket), ask the retailer if they’re using New Zealand salmon - they likely are, in which case you can buy in confidence.

Happy Christmas!