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Several leading chocolate brands are being criticized for having “inadequate” ethical standards in their cocoa supply chain.

Research by Ethical Consumer (EC) found that only 17 out of 82 well-known chocolate brands used chocolate from suppliers that provided sustainable income for cocoa farmers.

A fair price is based on a consultation process with workers and traders to ensure the sum covers the costs of growing their crop.

Around 60 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, but an estimated four in 10 cocoa-growing households in Ivory Coast and six in 10 in Ghana use child labor, according to the report.

Popular brands such as Cadbury, Mars and Nestlé were deemed inadequate by EC as they did not meet the criteria assessed by EC.

The chocolate must be: Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade International; better than Fairtrade, including paying at least the Fairtrade Premium; or adding value at the source (the chocolate was made in the country where cocoa was grown, giving the country of origin more profit).

Around 60 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Brands deemed appropriate and recommended by Ethical Consumer include Tony’s Chocolonely, Raw Chocolate Company and Chocolate Madagascar.

Jasmine Owens, researcher at Ethical Consumer, said: “There is incredible inequality in the chocolate industry, with many cocoa farmers living in poverty while international chocolate companies rake in billions of pounds.”

“Most of the world’s chocolate is grown in West Africa and conditions for farmers are generally really terrible. But it’s European and British consumers who eat most of it. So we really have a lot of power and responsibility over the conditions of farmers in West Africa because we are the reason they harvest the cocoa.”

In 2022, Channel 4 shows found that 10-year-old children used machetes to harvest cocoa for chocolate giant Mondelēz’s supply chain. A Ghanaian father said he had to “use his children” to help with the harvest to produce more bags of cocoa, including his 10-year-old daughter.

A Nestlé spokesperson told the Guardian: “We believe Ethical Consumer’s assessment of our approach does not reflect the comprehensive detail we have provided about our work and therefore does not reflect the extent of our efforts to sustainably source cocoa for our products reflects.”

“At Nestlé, we have driven industry-leading projects and initiatives to further improve the sustainable sourcing of cocoa for our products and help improve farmers’ livelihoods.”

A Mars spokesperson said: “Our goal is for 100% of our cocoa globally to be responsibly sourced and traceable (from farmer to first point of purchase) by 2025. We go beyond the current level of certification standards and practices and are committed to taking action in three focus areas that place cocoa farmers, communities and the environment at the heart of our efforts.

“We are taking concrete actions to make a difference in cocoa-growing communities because we know that actions speak louder than words. That’s why in 2018 we launched our Cocoa for Generations strategy – a farmer-first initiative supported by a billion people. A dollar investment over 10 years that addresses farmer income and welfare in multiple ways because it is proven that pricing alone is not the solution.”

Mondelez, which owns Cadbury’s, did not respond with a comment but referred to its 2022 sustainability report, in which the company committed to sourcing all of its chocolate through its Cocoa Life program by 2025.

Source : www.independent.co.uk

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