Look around you at the supermarket, and you’ll see shelves piled high with bars, blocks and boxes of chocolate, not to mention chocolate flavoured biscuits, cakes and milks. The sad reality behind what might seem like an innocent and comforting sweet treat is that most of chocolate sold in Australia is NOT certified to be free from the use of forced, child or trafficked labour. We have not been eating ethical chocolate.
Over 60% of the world’s cocoa comes from Ghana and the Ivory Coast in West Africa. Children make up almost half of the workers in these cocoa farms, some working in slave like conditions, away from their families and some performing dangerous labour on their own parent’s farms. Child labour is also a big problem on Brazilian cocoa farms.
The world’s largest chocolate companies (Mars, Cadbury, Hershey) have continued to postpone commitments to end child labour for the past 20 years. This is because they still cannot properly identify the farms where all their cocoa is coming from. They also pay cocoa farmers so dismally, that the cocoa farmers themselves are earning less that $1 a day. It leaves them no choice but to search out the cheapest forms of labour.
Even now, the biggest chocolate companies can only trace about 50% of their global cocoa supply to certified sources… and then are unsure whether the certification supplied truly represents an ethical source.
The power here belongs to us, the consumer, when it comes to buying chocolate. We really can make a difference by voting with our wallets (and our tastebuds!)
Here’s What To Look For When Buying Ethical Chocolate
Always look for the Fairtrade logo. Fairtrade certification aims to ensure that the chocolate has been produced without the use of child labour.
Direct Source Cocoa
Read the label: buy chocolate that contains cacao that has either been sourced directly from the farmer or via a transparent and ethical supply chain.
Australia has many bean–to-bar small batch, artisanal chocolate producers. These artisans are often at the leading edge of sourcing direct trade cocoa and packaging their chocolates sustainably. You are more likely to find ethical or Fairtrade certified chocolate in smaller shops with bigger hearts than mainstream supermarkets.
Look for a Rainforest Alliance logo
The Rainforest Alliance helps cocoa producers to implement sustainable farming practices. This includes reducing deforestation, improving land conservation and biodiversity and supporting local communities.
Turn against Palm Oil
Palm oil is a common additive in chocolate, which may be hidden under the listing ‘vegetable oil.’ Unfortunately, even with RSPO certified sustainable palm oil, there are no rules about continued clearing of rainforests, only high conservation value ones. Compliance is not reviewed adequately, and violations are rarely punished. Greenpeace International has declared the certification to be purely ‘Greenwash.’
Buy Certified Organic where possible. Choosing Certified Organic products ensure that not only are the pesticide residues considerably lower on produce, existing natural ecosystems are protected and animals are treated humanely and with respect.
Choose sustainable packaging
There are so many options now for chocolate to be kept fresh, whilst still being packaged sustainably; there are home compostable plastic inserts, recyclable cardboard boxes – and even foil is recyclable when scrunched into a big ball. Shop with the environment in mind and choose to support brands who are planet friendly.
Find our Clean + Conscious Chocolate winners HERE. Not only are the chocolate products we recommend child labour free, they are palm oil free and sustainably produced and packaged. Also, make sure to check out How to Spot & Avoid Products Made By Child Labour.