Take the Bitterness Out of Chocolate

Easter choc

Easter chocolate is already on the supermarket shelves, so let’s recommit to using our chocolate dollars to buy slavery-free chocolate this year. It’s also the right time to tell our families, friends and communities about the exploitation of children in chocolate production. Encourage them to start buying slavery-free chocolate now – and to keep going after Easter. Your actions make a difference and have led to some significant improvements in the chocolate industry since 2008.

More than a million children, particularly in the west African countries of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) work in slave-like conditions on cocoa bean farms picking one of the key ingredients used in chocolate production.

Many families, living in dire poverty, are deceived into allowing a child to work on a cocoa plantation. The work is often hazardous and the children are not paid, live in squalid conditions, receive no education and many do not see their families again.

There are lots of resources to help us navigate the sometimes-confusing array of slavery-free chocolate certifications. ACRATH has promoted FAIRTRADE and Rainforest Alliance for many years. More recently, many chocolate producers have established their own certification programs, including Cocoa Plan and Cocoa Life.  Be Slavery Free has produced a chocolate scorecard to help consumers make an informed decision about what chocolate to buy.

You can find the Be Slavery Free Chocolate Scorecard here. The scorecard published in 2022 and updated before Easter, features most of your favourite brands and explains how they rate in several key areas including child labour, payment of a living income and the impact on climate.

In 2022 the Chocolate Scorecard gave special mentions to ‘Good Eggs’ Alter Eco, Tony’s Chocolonely and Whittaker’s – producers that ‘continue to be best in class’. ACRATH also acknowledges the great work being done by ALDI and Haigh’s especially at Easter.

“Nestlé has taken significant steps in innovation for addressing farmers’ income with additional payments and with their commitment to plant 2.8 million shade trees by the end of 2022. Ferrero now joins other companies whose cocoa is overwhelmingly certified such as Hershey’s, Ritter, Fazer and others. While certification is not perfect, it is often a positive step in a company’s sustainability journey, especially when it is included as a part of other initiatives,” according to the Chocolate Scorecard.

Heather McNaught, from ACRATH WA, believes shoppers are receptive to learning about chocolate and how it is produced. Last year she helped implement a campaign in IGA stores across WA. All stores received the posters/flyers to put up with the ethical stock that was ordered, to assist with sales.

“We were advised that approximately 27% of chocolate that was ordered was slavery-free certified products. I received comments from a number of friends who had seen the posters/advertising in their local stores. We also sent it to high schools in WA, asking them to look out for the posters and to support their local stores by purchasing the ethically marked products, and raising awareness with family/friends about the campaign,” Heather said.

Caption: Heather at the IGA Como Store and the Store Manager Renee Steenkamp with the ethical products highlighted/on display. They maintained the posters/campaign for the whole time that they had stock available for sale.

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