The Real Cocoa Crisis
Cocoa farmers are almost all extremely poor. Cocoa can only be grown in tropical countries, and it is almost entirely grown by smallholders. The bulk of production is in West Africa, with Ivory Coast – the biggest exporter – producing 43% of the world’s supply. Ghana is in second place, and produces about 20%.
It is now nearly twenty years since the Western media first started talking about child labour in West African cocoa production, including forced labour. The Harkin-Engel Protocol, in which companies promised to tackle the issue, was signed in 2001. Child labour reports, sustainability projects and 2020 targets abound.
Despite this, there is little evidence of significant progress. There are still estimated to be about two million children working on cocoa farms in West Africa. There is particularly profound concern about it because it is such hazardous work; cocoa pods are split with machetes, toxic chemicals are used, and the children carry extremely heavy loads. Injuries are extremely common.
The media attention on child labour has led to a major rise in the proportion of cocoa that is certified by a third-party standard, from 2% a decade ago to about a quarter today. It is still growing fast as companies push towards their 2020 targets. UTZ is by far the most popular, followed by Rainforest Alliance, and then Fairtrade.There is also a small amount that is certified organic.
We have given extra Product Sustainability points on our score tables to brands that are 100% organic, Fairtrade, UTZ, Rainforest Alliance.
We have also rated all the companies on their cocoa sourcing policy:
Best rating - Divine, Plamil, Moo Free, Booja Booja, Cocoa Loco, Montezuma, Traidcraft, Lindt
Worst rating - Nestle, Mondelez, Ferrero, Mars, Hotel Chocolat, Guylian, Tesco