Which Anti-Cocoa-Slavery Efforts are Legit?
Updated: Jul 6, 2022
Almost none. Which anti cocoa-slavery efforts are NOT legit? That is a better question...with a bitter answer.
First lets see how many efforts there are exclusively for cocoa:
Fair for Life
The Rainforest Alliance
There are almost none. There are even several failed efforts that have been disbanded like Utz Certified and Verification Working Group. In this article we will be covering the groups above.
The major offenders of cocoa slavery are companies that profit off of illegally farmed cocoa. They can be farmers, traffickers, buyers, distributors, and manufacturers. Here is a list of the largest companies profiting off of mass human-rights violations: Nestlé
Ferrero Group Compartes
There are many, many more.
This is a subject with scarce resolutions and an abundant amount of human and civil rights abuses.
There are several HUGE Chocolate companies that use child-slavery in their cocoa. Some of them have started their own projects to tackle child-slavery. Others just pay a premium for slave-cocoa to help farmers. None of them have been successful at eliminating the problem of child-slavery.
Just note that all the major chocolate companies above or "Big Chocolate companies,"actually buy just 10% to 60% of their cocoa from any of the listed anti-cocoa-slavery businesses.
Let's start with, "Fair for Life".
They do not certify farms for being free of child-slavery. Its not in their mission statement or vision. You can look at their webpage and get countless ratings for lots of cacao farms in areas with massive occurrences of child-slavery. They only visit 1 in 10...(https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/cocoa-child-labour-africa-hershey-nestle-mars-cadbury-toblerone-a8948316.html) They grade farms from passing to n/a, and on a percentage, so all grades of cocoa beans end up bought, sold and used as industrial chocolate. There are no restrictions on what you can buy and no farms fail. Its a fake child-slave free certification. Not legit.
They started in 2006 and have failed at eliminating child-slavery in cocoa. They were founded by a Swiss Company and recently bought by EcoCert. You can still get "Fair for Life" Certified cocoa, however. There are no requirements against child-slavery at this step.
"EcoCert", is an all Electronic Service
"EcoCert", is a JOKE! It's the ONLY way to get your "Fair for Life" Certification. Why? They claim to building responsible supply-chains. Responsibility for Child-Slavery in Cocoa gets passed from corporation to corporation...And, thats right, you can't get a "Fair for Life" Certificate from "Fair for Life". Not fair. Not, legit. "[We employ] transparency, because ethical and fair trade practices are a guarantee of success in a sector where volume fraud and lack of product traceability are common and where small producers remain the weak link", "Fair for Life" claims. Transparency or even traceability is different than child-slave free. Stay away from products that are, "Fair for Life" Certified if you want to be sure you are not eating any child-slavery chocolate. The same with chocolate brands that use the words "traceable" or "transparent". These words are meaningless. The Rainforest Alliance
Even the name has nothing to do with child-slavery. I know you've heard of them. They claim that their, "2020 Certification Program drives more sustainable agricultural production and responsible supply chains." Also, "35 years of Thriving Landscapes", is something they stand by. They have a zero percent success rate at ending child-slavery in cocoa for over 35 years. Did you think the Rainforest Alliance helped fight child-slavery?
Why else have they failed? Let me quote them after 33 years of being the most visible in its industry. "This entrenched issue [child-slavery in cocoa] is driven by the social, economic and political context in many countries. Unfortunately, bans on child labor, by themselves, are counter-productive; children can simply be moved to work on unmonitored farms or to other industries...we 'assess' and 'address'", they submit. Has it worked in 33 years? No. And they blame every other company in the industry with, "all participants in the cocoa industry need to take a more active role to address these and other issues." They have failed because they never tried. Not legit. And then there is Cocoa Life "Cocoa Life", possibly the most fake effort, is ran by Cadbury. Yes, Cadbury. You see, they only have data from since they were court mandated in 2001, 2008 and 2010 to improve conditions for their farmers. They were in business 100 years or more before this. Thanks to the english colonialists and capitalists, like John Cadbury and many others, there could be over 150 years or 6 generations of known exploitation in Africa. Its only been 155 years since American's ended the slave trade in the US, so, one could imagine how easy it was to traffick children into cocoa slavery back then. After all, the excuse they had then is the same they have now, white supremacy.
If the chocolate you eat is from trafficked children in slavery, maybe its time for you to stop. Definately no one should be profiting. Here are some of the recent impacts they themselves have claimed to be true. Keep in mind, none of the solutions were to hold back profits until they could ensure safety and human rights in their supply chain. Do you really think a company should be allowed to profit off of child-slave labor in 2022? Cocoa Life has never been legit. Let's be crystal clear, Cocoa Life only has 61% of their farms in a child-labor monitoring and remediation system. There are ZERO details about what that entails. Cocoa Life does not even do its own data collection! They have no, "boots on the ground". Its almost like Cocoa Life and Cadbury don't really care. There are ZERO consequences for them or for any of the efforts. I'll say it again later, "black lives matter in cocoa!" Let's Talk Tony's Chocolonely
"Tony's Chocolonely", is an anti-child-slavery, industrial chocolate maker that was busted for child slavery. The evidence is here." "In 2005, we deliberately chose to partner with Barry Callebaut to show that it is possible to be fully traceable while working with a major processor," they said (https://nltimes.nl/2021/02/16/tonys-chocolonely-loses-slave-free-chocolate-label). They failed. And profited. And they still profit to this day.
Tony's Chocolonely is not a legit effort to end child-slavery in cocoa. They don't even make their own chocolate. Barry Callebaut does. Read about Barry Callebaut You see, Barry Callebaut, is a chocolate maker notorius for international human rights violations in its supply chain. Everyone in the chocolate industry knows it so I won't bother linking any info on them. They do admit it though, "Barry Callebaut sources cocoa and other commodities from regions where child labor, occurring largely on family farms and defined as children doing work when too young or work that endangers them, is widespread." They left out the part about the farmers trafficking child-slaves from Burkina Faso and Mali to farms where Barry Callebaut buys from.
What's really at stake? The voices of the youth. Generations have been inculcated and silenced. Young black boys and girls are kidnapped and often never see their parents again.
This "entrenched issue" or rather, institutional racism persists. The farmers simply don't get paid enough so they enslave black children who make up this demographic exclusively. Its not because they will get secretly trafficked to a different industry (though this happens). The Rainforest Alliance lies. The "Big Chocolate", industry lies. They pay below starvation wages. Below poverty wages. Slave wages. And the workers, the children, often get no wage at all. Schooling, is completely out of the picture for the kidnapped cocoa kids. Nothing has changed because the premiums they pay still keep the adult farmers in poverty. It's too bad because people are willing to pay more for child-slave free chocolate. Cocoa distribution companies and lesser chocolate makers buy the certified beans through any of the above corporations and make chocolate with no shame at all. Then they profit and continue to never think twice about profiting off the blood and sweat of trafficked-enslaved minors. That's a systemic problem kept in place by supremecists. If we truly care about black lives then we have to think internationally. They think by wearing any of the above badges, they are free of culpability. Little do they know, black lives matter in cocoa. They know exactly what kind of cocoa they are buying. They don't care. Mostly because customers are uninformed and buy the chocolate anyway, its business as usual.
So who is an ally of these children? Who speaks for them? Who listens? Do they get polled? Are there statistics? They certainly do work considered the worst forms of child-labour out of any industry! There is a world class documentarian (he has a third movie on this subject coming out soon!), a few chocolate makers and the author at www.slavefreechocolate.org that are ally's. Here is a preview for, "The Chocolate War"
There were others. Guy-André Kieffer was kidnapped and probably (definitely) murdered for reporting on the subject of cocoa corruption within the Ivorian government. Asking questions about cocoa is, "dangerous," according to the Canadian embassy officials in Cote d'Ivore. Miki Mastrati covers it in his first documentary below.
George "King George" Abanga, was pronounced deceased upon arriving at the hospital in Ghana after reporting on cocoa farms in Sankore, Mali. He was shot in 2015.
Now, Rainforest Alliance says that they are rolling, "something new", out in June. Let's check back and see what it is. The goals of it are:
Goal is to accelerate sustainability improvement in cocoa through certification
Organization sees transparency and shared responsibility as essential to building a sustainable sector
I don't see any goals regarding child-slavery. "Sustainability", or "sustainable", does not mean child-slave free. I don't think any of the companies "Fair for Life, Rainforest Alliance," or other major corporately funded projects are working directly on child-slavery. Even, "Endangered Species Chocolate", focuses their work on animals. And its been over a century for some colonialist profiteers. The best way is to sacrifice some profits to pay cocoa farmers livable wages, and not by helping animals and their habitats.
Bean to bar chocolate makers are all helping to build a non-industrial, "craft chocolate", sector with livable wages for cacao farmers. If you count for currency exchange, here in Hawai'i we have some the highest paid cocoa farmers in the world. We support our local farmers on the Big Island. Otherwise, high-end child-slave free cacaos come from at least a dozen countries. Hawaii and those international origins are ones that have been proven child-slave free. Even in Africa, slave-free chocolate exists. Yet, at the same time 1.4 million children are lost,
unpaid, uneducated and laboring daily.
The best way to be sure to eat child-slave free chocolate is just to be sure it was made bean to bar as it seems none of the anti-child-slavery companies are legit. None of them ban child-slavery and therefore many "Big Chocolate," companies profit off West African children's rights violations. They think you, the customer, won't care or won't notice. Which is it? Are you indifferent? Unaffected? Disassociated? If you consume industrial chocolate these are all now questions you have to ask yourself. Also do you care about global justice and freedom? There is a million reasons not to eat chocolate endorsed by the companies in this article. But whats yours?
Island Sharks makes and sells our own slave-free Hawaiian chocolate to help the anti-slavery effort and to support the local farmers in Hawai'i. It's a personal mission we've been on for half a decade. You can help any time simply by helping us grow our small business however you can. We make delicious Hawai'i Chocolate grown and harvested by the neighboring farmers just down the road in Papaikou. Help us be an alternative for everyone trying to get away from fake slave-free certifications. Share this blog post with anyone who thinks they are supporting ethical chocolate. "Ethical", does not mean child-slave free. Most folks thinks these efforts in this article are child-slave free. Many of us have been misled, manipulated and lied too. Island Sharks is the alternative. We wish we could be the solution. Watch Miki's second movie on the shadiness of chocolate companies below.
Ultimately, informing our consumers is our best shot at transforming the industry. No one is calling for a boycott of, "Big Chocolate". Except maybe Dr. Rashad Richey here.
Instead, just support the craft chocolate industry. No one thinks paying more for unethical cocoa will solve the issue. We strive to inform everyone, in fact, because shifting our buying habits CAN send a message. Our satisfied customers get to feel great about their purchase with us because they know the money is going directly to the farmer. They have the privilege of supporting slave-free chocolate and eating it too. Hopefully, this article has informed you so we can now conclude that none of the efforts in this article are legit. And never have been. "Between a quarter and a third of all cocoa is grown under a certification label, such as various fair trade certifications and the Rainforest Alliance/UTZ Certification; however, no single label can guarantee that the chocolate was made without the use of exploitive labor," says Foodispower.org Try Hawaii Chocolate!