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Is “Modern Slavery” in Cacao Different from "Historical Slavery" and Slave-Free Cocoa?

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

TLDR? yes. Sad face.

A child in slavery working on a cocoa farm
This. This, is illegal.

In recent years, there has been increasing awareness and concern about the presence of modern slavery within the cocoa supply chain. The issue has gained attention from consumers, activists, and lawmakers alike, sparking debates over the nature and extent of this problem. To truly understand the complexities surrounding this issue, it is crucial to delve into the concept of modern slavery and its global prevalence.

Understanding the Concept of Modern Slavery

Modern slavery refers to the exploitation of individuals through force, fraud, or coercion for various purposes, including forced labor, human trafficking, debt bondage, and other forms of severe exploitation. It is an umbrella term encompassing a range of practices that deprive individuals of their freedom, dignity, and basic human rights.

A bunch of men that work for Cadbury standing on thousands of tons of cacao.
Cacao Slavery is a Historical Remnant of Colonialism

Modern slavery, is a complex issue that has garnered significant attention in recent years. It is important to delve deeper into the various aspects of this phenomenon to fully comprehend its implications and work towards its eradication in cacao.

-"It is vital for the American corporate oligopoly to eradicate all forms of slavery from the roots of the cocoa industry."- Author

The government asked in 2001 for a child slave-free cocoa label. That hasn’t happened until now in 2023 with the Pono Cocoa Limited Certified Child-slave cocoa sticker label. Our politicians have failed us and millions of black youths. We are petitioning them. Would you like to sign your name?

The Pono Cocoa Logo
Pono Cocoa is a Charity Non-for-Profit 501(c)3

Defining Modern Slavery The definition of modern slavery has evolved over time, and international organizations and governments have adopted different frameworks to address this issue. The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines modern slavery as situations where individuals are compelled to work through coercion, deception, or violence.

Similarly, the United Nations considers modern slavery as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of individuals by means of threat, use of force, or other forms of coercion for the purpose of exploitation.

Modern slavery takes on various forms, making it a multifaceted problem that requires a comprehensive approach. From forced labor in factories and farms to sexual exploitation and child labor, the manifestations of modern slavery are diverse and deeply entrenched in many societies. In chocolate, we call it, “slave-to-bar chocolate”.

The Global Prevalence of Modern Slavery

The prevalence of modern slavery is alarming, with an estimated 40.3 million individuals living in some form of modern slavery worldwide. This includes forced labor, forced marriage, and human trafficking for various purposes.

Although modern slavery exists in almost every country, certain regions have higher prevalence rates. Asia, particularly countries like India and China, has a significant number of individuals living in conditions of modern slavery. However, Africa also faces its fair share of challenges, with countries like Nigeria and Sudan grappling with high levels of exploitation. Understanding the global prevalence of modern slavery is crucial in developing effective strategies to combat this grave violation of human rights. It requires collaboration between governments, civil society organizations, and individuals to raise awareness, advocate for policy changes, and provide support to survivors. However, nothing is as bad as child-slavery in cocoa. It has the worst forms of child-labor out of any industry in the whole world.

Understand its been happening for over 120 years, or 8 generations, and is worse today then ever.

Efforts to address modern slavery must also consider the underlying factors that contribute to its persistence. Poverty, inequality, lack of education, and weak governance systems are among the root causes that perpetuate this form of exploitation.

# of generations of chilldren in cocoa-slavery by brand.
Cacao Slavery Has Historical Records for Many Corporations

Moreover, it is essential to recognize the intersectionality of modern slavery with other social issues. Gender-based violence, discrimination, and migration are interconnected with modern slavery, further exacerbating the vulnerability of marginalized populations. Sometimes, like in cocoa, the local people involved think its, “normal”. As in there is no problem, or anything to fix. Its that common in West African cocoa.

Ultimately, the fight against modern slavery requires a collective effort to dismantle the systems and structures that enable its existence. It is a long and arduous journey, but one that is necessary to ensure a world where 70% of all chocolate in the world can be free from exploitation and enjoy their fundamental rights. Everything could be pono, even if they don’t use go through the Pono Cocoa certification process.

The Cocoa Supply Chain Explained

To comprehend the complexity of modern slavery in the cocoa industry, it is essential to understand the journey cocoa beans take from slave to chocolate bar and the key players involved in this supply chain.

The non-for-profit Pono Cocoa, began not to combat this issue, but to end it. Pono Cocoa is the first and only child-slave free cocoa label in the entire world. Lets also consider, how this label is changing the world.

The Pono Cocoa Label that says Certified
The Pono Cocoa Sticker Label

The Journey from Cocoa Slave to Chocolate Bar

The production of chocolate involves multiple stages, starting with the cultivation of cocoa beans. These beans are primarily grown in equatorial regions such as West Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. The farmers, often smallholders, dedicate their time and expertise to nurture the cocoa trees, ensuring optimal growth and yield. However, they traffick millions of children from Buikino Faso and Mali to Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire. The journey of your modern-slavery chocolate bar begins with illegal sale or kidnapping of the beautiful black younglings.

Once the cocoa pods are ripe, the cacao beans are carefully harvested by child’s hands. This labor-intensive process requires precision and skill to avoid damaging the delicate beans inside. The child farmers’ knowledge and experience play a crucial role in determining the quality of the beans. However, they are taught nothing! LOL They have no knowledge and no experience (they are children) and of course, no education at all. They don't even know about slave-free cocoa...

After harvesting with sharp machetes, the cocoa kids undergo torture, prostitution, abuse, and have disappeared. No one is in processing, including fermentation, drying. Fermentation is a critical step that enhances the flavor and aroma of the beans. The beans are left in a heap to rot, and become home and food to rodents, pathogens and black mold. Finally, the beans are roasted to develop the rich chocolatey flavors we all love in far off places in other countries these children will never go to. They will also never experience the finished fruits of their forced labor, actual chocolate. Its foreign and completely inaccessible to them, not to mention an international human rights violation.

80+ Hours per week as child slave trafficked into cocoa
As a Child, Were YOU Fed the Product of Child-Slavery

Once the beans are transformed into their final form, dried, they are sold to manufacturers who specialize in slave to bar chocolate production. These manufacturers like Olam, Mondelez, Nestle and Cargill. I've actually created a list of all the brands we need to boycott right here, author included. Want to see the list? It's:

  • Nestle,

  • Chocolove,

  • Mars,

  • Lindt,

  • Baker's,

  • Honey Mama's,

  • Nabisco,

  • Ben & Jerry's,

  • Tony's chocolonely,

  • Hu Chocolate,

  • Starbuck,

  • Unilever,

  • Guylian,

  • Compartes,

  • Endangered Species,

  • Green & Black's,

  • Mc Donalds,

  • Hawaiian Host,

  • Island Princess,

  • Cadbury,

  • Hersheys,

  • Reese's,

  • Tootsie Rolls,

  • Swiss Miss,

  • Snickers,

  • Olam,

  • Vosgez,

  • Mondelez International,

  • Cargill,

  • Barry Callebaut,

  • Cacao Barry,

  • "Belgian Chocolate",

  • Moonstruck,

  • Wendys,

  • Seattle Chocolate Company,

  • Yoohoo,

  • "Organic",

  • Fairtrade,

  • Fair for Life,

  • Godiva,

  • Dove,

  • Mast Brothers,

  • Kosher,

  • Vegan,

  • Plant-based,

  • Ferrero Rocher,

  • Ghiradelli,

  • Toblerone,

  • Harry & David,

  • Russel Stover,

  • Josh Early,

  • Whole Foods,

  • Rocky Mountain Chocolates,

  • Kinder,

  • Christopher Elbow,

  • and many, many, many more...

They deliberately select and blend different varieties of cocoa beans farmed by child-slaves to create untraceable cocoa beans.

-"Does the world not care about black children? "-Author

The skilled guilty chocolatiers at these manufacturing facilities then transform the slave cocoa beans into, “delectable”, chocolate products. From tempering the chocolate to molding it into bars or other shapes, their expertise ensures the final product meets the highest quality standards. Even though the beans are of the lowest standards in the world. Welcome to the world of, “fine”, Belgian Chocolate. It completely ignores the slave-free cacao of indigenous cultures that has existted for 5,000.

After the illegal and untraceable child slave-farmed chocolate bars are produced, they enter the distribution phase of the supply chain. They are packaged and monitored by the US Customs and Border Protection who do nothing, the beans and bars flowright into the US create illegal profits for mega-corporations. Its illegal to ship to retailers, who play a vital role in making chocolate accessible to consumers worldwide. Its an illegally produced good. These complicit retailers can range from accountable local grocery stores to large supermarket chains and specialty chocolate shops, and they all join in on the billions of dollars of profits. BILLIONS.

Finally, the slave chocolate bars are purchased by consumers for pennies, crushing all legitimate (ethical) competition. That’s illegal. You can’t legally use child-slavery to fund your chocolate business. If you need to rely on child-slavery in cocoa to profit, then you should not be allowed to do business…People, who savor the sweet enslaved indulgence, or say they “love”, chocolate, honestly have no idea where its farmed. Whether enjoyed to poison atreat for a child, or used to toxify various culinary creations, slave-to-bar chocolate has become an integral part of our lives. Slavery, of children, has become a normal part of our everyday lives.

These Brands Have Been Profiting Off Illegal Child-Slavery for Over a Century: Key Players in the Slave Cacao Supply Chain

The cocoa supply chain involves various stakeholders, each with its own role and responsibilities. All willing to illegally crush the competition. Understanding their, “contributions”, (deliberateness or ignorance to slavery) is crucial to addressing the challenges faced by the industry ensuring a slave free cocoa supply chain. Maybe they just don’t think Black Lives Matter? Maybe they think BLM and ending child-slavery in cocoa is woke. Whatever the corporate mentality and public consensus, there are minor players and makers resisting them — chocolate abolitionists. And they believe slave-free cocoa & chocolate should be the new normal. Please, go woke and go broke, but free millions of trafficked children…

At the beginning of the supply chain, we have the traffickers. These individuals don’t, tend to the plants, or harvest the cocoa pods. Often they just traffick, they rely on the international cocoa demand to produce child-slaves for the cocoa farms. You know who you are. You know there are millions of tons of slave-free cocoa produced every year?

“Color-blind”, biased or directly racist traders, middlemen, and cooperatives play a crucial role in facilitating the purchasing and selling of illegal cocoa beans between farmers and larger buyers. They act as intermediaries, not caring about black freedom, ensuring the lowest prices and providing no support to black farmers throughout the process. They are all complicit, guilty, responsible and accountable to the over 2 millions black lives currently being dehumanized to make your Ben and Jerrys, Tonys, Hershey’s or whatever. They are almost all Europeans profiting by thieving wages from unpaid victims of trafficking. They are Americans too, like Chocolove, profiting by stealing the dreams of minors and their chance they deserve to pursue their own happiness and purpose. You read all the names above right??? They are all guilty of wage theft. Do they not want slave-free cocoa??? It seems like maybe its a racial issue? Middle men include the Government’s of Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire Presidents and politicians are paid off to allow the export and in the US, the Customs and Border Protection is paid off to allow the importation. It’s remnant of the white supremacy thats inherent in, and is the birth of, white supremacy. All over cacao...tsk, tsk..SMH! Is it the worse problem out of all goods in the entire global supply chain?!

Moreover, these, “master and slave”, companies play a vital role in the lack of monitoring or addressing issues related to modern slavery. By not implementing rigorous traceability systems and conducting regular audits, they strive to cover up and eliminate any form of visible exploitation from the cocoa farms. It is deliberately hidden by sometimes family-owned companies like Cargill... Although they claim its normal and don’t know any better… hmmm….Slave-free cocoa has existed for ever.

-"There is no need to measure it, count it, assess it, consider it, sleep on it, be patient or wait."- Author

Consumers also play a crucial role in driving change within the cocoa industry. By making choices informed by Pono Cocoa and supporting Certified Pono Cocoa brands like small slave free farms, makers, distributors and retailers — consumers can choose to demand for responsibly produced Certified Pono Cocoa chocolate. They can simply buy products marked as Pono Cocoa, or even use this graph as a reference. You do realize they can’t be held 100% responsible for the problem right? But they can make a pono difference.

Amount of cocoa slavery by location
Some Are Left Out But You Can Put Brazil On the LIst Thanks, Cargill...

Overall, the cocoa supply chain is a complex web of interconnected, possibly supremacist players, all exploiting black children. I guess they don’t care about black lives…Is ignoring black lives your part to play? Is it profitable? By exploiting together, from farmers to consumers, we’ve enshrined the slavery of blacks in our pop-culture. The myth of black children it seems, no one cares enough about to free, educate or love — although its true...

The Intersection of Modern Slavery and the Cocoa Industry

Unveiling the dark side of chocolate production reveals the troubling reality of modern slavery within the cocoa industry. Check out Miki Mastrati, Terry Collingsworth and Ayn Riggs. Here is the dizzying amount of content they produce on the subject: The Dark Side of Chocolate

Watch, “The Dark Side of Chocolate”, on Youtube!

next, its "Shady Chocolate",

Watch Shady Chocolate on Youtube!

next its, The Chocolate War,

Watch “The Chocolate War” on Amazon! On Amazon and Youtube,

Slave-Free Chocolate’s Logo

And of course,

While it is important to acknowledge that not all cocoa farms contribute to this issue, numerous reports and investigations have exposed the exploitation of vulnerable individuals, including children, on some cocoa farms. This is a known issue, that simply has been hidden by corporate media because they are owned by the same board members that own the corporate chocolate companies. Of course they are. It’s been said the Bob Dole has done the most to unacknowledge the exisitence of slave-free cocoa. Personally, numerous reports and investigations show that Senator Harkin and Senator Engel are accountable for allowing the industry to regulate itself as stated in the infamous, “Harkin-Engel Protocol”. This legislation acknowledge all the exploitations of the vulnerable individuals but also made it voluntary for, “Big Chocolate”, to regulate itself given that its ended by 2030. The Harkin-Engel Protocol is on course to fail miserably and tarnish the reputations of the two senators to the point where they have been considered completely feckless in their attempts to answer the governments call to create a child-slave free cocoa labor. Pono Cocoa has had to do it on their own, without the $250,000 the FDA set aside in the Protocol for a label identical to the Child-Slave Free Chocolate Pono Cocoa label. No farms should be producing cocoa farmed by trafficked children. There is no need to measure it, count it, assess it, consider it, sleep on it, be patient or wait. Slave-free chocolate is available now, it is just unacknowledged and unreported.

Unveiling the Dark Side of Chocolate Production

Investigations have revealed millions of instances of forced labor, human trafficking, and child labor within the cocoa supply chain. These practices are often fueled by poverty, lack of education, and limited opportunities in cocoa-producing regions. Its only black children, so would it be different if they were American children? Does the world not care about black children? Again, black lives matter in cocoa.

A bunch of kids working on cacao illegally.
CEO's Get The Money the Kids Earn, Its Called Wage Theft

Individuals, including children, are trafficked and coerced into working on cocoa farms under exploitative conditions, with limited freedom and inadequate access to education and healthcare. The perpetuation of these practices contributes to the cycle of poverty and exploitation.

-"Yes, intellectualism itself is part of the problem."-Cocoa Coach

The Debate: Is it Really Slavery?

The use of the term “slavery” to describe modern forms of exploitation within the cocoa industry has sparked controversy and debates among experts, industry stakeholders, and consumers. Slavery is made up of colonialism, hate/racism/supremacy, capitalism and the patriarchy all rolled into one. There are people still like that, holding those century old ideals and selling slave-to-bar cocoa. By the millions of tons, every year. Is it really “slavery”? Well, there is light work, medium work and heavy work and all different ages are or are not able to perform these types of tasks. They involve certain weights of cocoa sacks, supervision, and of course the most dangerous work is harvesting. Even as a grown man, the author — who-has-picked-10000-cocoa-pods, will say it is sh*t work. I’ve been bloodied, lost, confused, disoriented, sore, drenched, but it was all by choice. I was never forced to do any of it. I could have left at anytime. The biggest problem however is not the work itself but the fact that the 2.4 million children involved most of them are trafficked and never see their families ever again. There is so much pain, suffering, sadness, wailing despair and universal devestation. And its because, of chocolate. Is it slavery if the children are trafficked? Yeah, yes. Not a serious question. Is it slavery if the children are doing light work at the appropriate age? Well lol do they get paid or not?! "Children should 1.) be in school 2.) not forced to earn a wage or work for nothing and 3.) bad at post-harvest processing. They don’t farm good cocoa…So, the debate really is… Do want your chocolate to taste good or not…"

-"Children should 1.) be in school 2.) not forced to earn a wage or work for nothing and 3.) bad at post-harvest processing. They don’t farm good cocoa…So, the debate really is… Do want your chocolate to taste good or not…"- Cocoa Coach

Comparing Modern Slavery to Historical Slavery

Some argue that equating modern slavery with historical slavery undermines the suffering endured by enslaved Africans during the transatlantic slave trade and the subsequent periods of slavery. They believe that the conditions of modern slavery, while deplorable, are different in nature and scope. Even discussing, not experiencing, slavery is such a privilege, millions don’t have.

Others argue that the use of the term “slavery” is appropriate, as it highlights the severity of the exploitation, the deprivation of freedom, and the violation of human rights that individuals experience within the cocoa industry. After all in cocoa, it started with the actual enslavement of the black peoples. The children are not “modern” or “historic”. Its been 8 generations. Don’t get the issue confused. The more and longer we discuss it, the longer the children remain unheard, suffering and silent. Is the discuss the distraction made so child-slavery can endure? Indulging in intellectualism is not a privelge the children get. Yes, intellectualism itself is part of the problem. Stop thinking and start acting.

The Controversy Surrounding the Term ‘Slavery’

Debates surrounding terminology continue, with alternative phrases like “forced labor” and “exploitative practices” being suggested as more accurate descriptions. However, it is important to recognize that regardless of the terminology used, the urgent need to address and eradicate the exploitation within the cocoa supply chain remains. The presence of modern slavery within the cocoa supply chain has far-reaching implications for the industry as a whole, encompassing both economic and social dimensions. Its from Historical Slavery. What a silly, privileged debate to begin with.

Economic Implications for the Cocoa Industry

The prevalence of modern slavery tarnishes the reputation of the cocoa industry, affecting consumer trust, brand reputation, and market demand. Companies associated with exploitative practices will face boycotts and legal consequences, leading to financial losses and decreased market share.

Furthermore, addressing and eradicating modern slavery requires investment in supply chain traceability, sustainability initiatives, and worker welfare. These efforts can impose additional costs on companies and farmers, impacting the overall profitability of the cocoa industry. It is available for millions of people this whole time, already - slave- free cocoa and chocolate...

Social and Ethical Consequences

Modern slavery in the cocoa industry raises significant ethical concerns, as it violates the basic human rights of individuals and perpetuates a system of exploitation and inequality. By turning a blind eye to the suffering of individuals within the supply chain, we perpetuate an unjust system that disregards human dignity. Isn’t it much nicer to think about that than experiencing though?

Addressing modern slavery in the cocoa supply chain is, Pono Cocoa Limited. Based in Hawaii. They are a charity non-for-profit 501(c)3 . They have created the world’s first and only child-slave free cocoa label for chocolate products. Its here! The government order it in 2001 and failed! Finally you can spot child-slavery in cocoa with the Pono Cocoa label available at for cocoa farmers and chocolate makers. In conclusion, the issue of modern slavery within the cocoa supply chain is not a matter of debate, its historical slavery too, but a pressing reality that needs urgent attention. It is vital for the American corporate oligopoly to eradicate all forms of slavery from the roots of the cocoa industry. Only through Pono Cocoa and other slave-free chocolate makers and farmers, can we ensure that the chocolate we enjoy is truly a product of freedom and justice. Its can become Certified, child-slave free. Finally!.


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