If you’re eating chocolate made by Hershey’s, Nestlé, or Mars, it may have been made with child labor.
According to a 2015 U.S. Labor Department report, more than 2 million children in West Africa (where around two-thirds of the world’s cocoa comes from) labor to grow and harvest cocoa. These children, some starting as young as 10, are employed at extremely low wages or no wages at all. They are swinging machetes, carrying heavy loads, spraying pesticides — all considered the “worst forms of child labor” by international authorities. All so that chocolate corporations can pad their profits.
When corporations are allowed to set their own rules, the results are often atrocious. The link between chocolate production and child slave labor in West Africa has come under scrutiny in the past. In fact, in 2001, the U.S. Congress introduced legislation that would have created a federal labeling system to indicate whether child slaves had been used in growing and harvesting cocoa. But the chocolate industry helped defeat that legislation. Adamant that it didn’t need regulation, the industry then agreed to voluntary commitments to eradicate child labor from its supply chains by 2005.
But today, the corporations that signed on to this agreement, including Hershey’s, Nestlé, and Mars, say they cannot guarantee that the chocolate you buy is free from child labor. And child labor remains a huge part of the supply chain.
That’s why we’re joining with a coalition of organizations to demand an end to child labor in chocolate production. The more of us that speak out, the more pressure we can put on these corporations to change these devastating practices.
Our messaging to the CEOs of Hershey’s, Nestlé, and Mars:
You have broken your promise and continue to profit off of child labor. These children are paid low or even no wages to conduct the “worst forms of child labor” according to international authorities. We demand you stop these practices immediately!