Posted by: hepowers | October 30, 2009

The Scary Side of the Chocolate Industry

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This morning while I walked the dog, the sweet smell of chocolate wafted by.  No doubt coming from our neighbourhood chocolate store, it got me thinking about Fair Trade chocolate.  I faced a dilemma several years ago when I learned the big chocolate companies are less than ideal corporate citizens.

It being the day before Halloween and knowing lots of chocolate will change hands on porches across the country tomorrow, I decided to research those big companies and see if their habits have improved.

The scary side of chocolate lies in the agricultural production of cocoa.  Exploitive child labour and subsistence living standards are typical for farmers, while Hershey, Nestle and Cadbury pull in great profits.  I searched the media and company web sites this morning and did not find much reassurance that things have improved for Hershey and Nestle.  Nestle repeatedly stresses they do not own farmland which started to sound like a cop out.  Hershey was more direct and mentioned their involvement in organizations which seek to improve labour conditions on cocoa farms.

Cadbury’s however, has established  the “Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, a 10-year initiative launched in 2008, investing £45 million in securing the economic, social and environmental sustainability of cocoa farmers in Ghana, India, Indonesia and the Caribbean.”  This past summer they introduced fair trade products in the UK which will soon be expanded to other countries.

If you want some grisly details of the cocoa farm situation in Africa, check out The Tuscon Citizen for some blunt information in this staff blog.

And lastly, I learned this morning about a campaign by the Global Exchange called ‘Fair Trade is Bootiful’.  This initiative has the little costumed ghouls giving out Fair Trade candy when they visit homes in order to educate more people about the scary side of the chocolate industry.  Apparently the campaign is successful and growing, expanding to 47 states and 10 provinces this year.  Hope they make it to my house.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for this article. There is a 2009 Chocolate Scorecard published by the International Labor Rights Forum, that has specific updates on the major names in chocolate, and which supports your statements above for Hershey, Nestle and Cadbury’s. Read about the “Bitter,” the “Semi-sweet” and “The Sweetest” companies in terms of their commitment to fair and sustainable cocoa production in the pdf at http://www.laborrights.org/sites/default/files/publications-and-resources/ChocolateScorecard09.pdf

    • Thanks for that information Madeline, I’m looking forward to checking out that score card.

      Helenl

  2. Hi Helen: thanks for the information on these companies. They sound similiar to the works of Coca Cola in SA.


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