How Do We Know That In Making Chocolate Child Labor is Used?
In making chocolate, child labor is used extensively on the Ivory Coast, where up to 60 percent of the economy comes from coco harvesting. Approximately 2.1 million children are engaged in the dangerous, taxing work of cocoa harvesting. These children work from early in the morning until nightfall, using machetes and chainsaws. Their families might have sold them into this work, or they might have been tricked by traffickers. It is modern slavery in every way.1
Internationally, organizations have tried to hold large corporations accountable for where they purchase their supply of cocoa in making the world’s beloved chocolate. These efforts have helped in varying degrees. The Ivory Coast is certainly not alone in child labor in the cocoa industry. The countries of Burkina Faso and Ghana are also involved. It is a high stakes industry. The Chocolate Store reports, “U.S. consumers eat 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate annually, representing nearly half of the world’s supply.” This means Americans are unwittingly fueling a dangerous form of child labor. Chocolate is a $103 billion industry.2
It takes 400 cocoa beans to make one pound of chocolate, which is about what one tree can yield in a year. Despite the worldwide demand on chocolate, the cocoa worker makes less than a $1 per day for difficult physical work.3 When children are forced into this life, it is usually because they don’t appear to have any other choice.
In 2019, The Washington Post reported that large chocolate companies promised decades ago to remove child labor from their supply chains but still have not come through on that promise. According to the article,
“The world’s chocolate companies have missed deadlines to uproot child labor from their cocoa supply chains in 2005, 2008 and 2010 … As a result, the odds are substantial that a chocolate bar bought in the United States is the product of child labor.”4
There are two things you can do to combat this egregious slavery and transgression of basic human rights. The first is to buy chocolate from fair trade companies that do not use child labor. You can find a list of such companies at Food Empowerment Project: https://foodispower.org/chocolate-list/. Consumer behaviors drive company behaviors.
The second thing you can do is to help give families a viable option for income that doesn’t involve child labor. Through GFA World’s Christmas Gift Catalog, for example, you can help supply farm animals to impoverished families who may be forced to make heartbreaking decisions regarding the future of their children. Families can create income streams through cows, chickens and more. A GFA missionary can help families connect with these resources and also with the love and truth of Jesus Christ, bringing hope for tomorrow and hope for eternity.Learn more about child labor in the fashion industry
1 “The ‘Chocolate Slaves’ of the Ivory Coast.” End Slavery Now. August 22, 2018. http://www.endslaverynow.org/blog/articles/the-chocolate-slaves-of-the-ivory-coast.
2 “Candy Document/Notes.” The Chocolate Store. Accessed February 17, 2022, https://www.thechocolatestore.com/candy-facts#:~:text=US%20consumers%20eat%202.8%20billion,chocolate’s%20popularity%20is%20growing%20rapidly.
3 Demarest, Abigail Abesamis. “8 Unbelievable Facts About the $103 Billion Chocolate Industry.” Insider. November 20, 2019. https://www.insider.com/chocolate-industry-facts-statistics-consumption-2019-11.
4 Whoriskey, Peter and Siegel, Rachel. “Cocoa’s Child Laborers.” The Washington Post. June 5, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/business/hershey-nestle-mars-chocolate-child-labor-west-africa/.
* ILO Asia-Pacific. Flickr. https://flickr.com/photos/iloasiapacific/15898646897/.