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Chocolate giants slated over ethical cocoa sourcing concerns

2024-02-26 Ingredients Network

Tag: Sustainability


The Chocolate Scorecard, led by Australian campaign group Be Slavery Free, revealed that big names including Starbucks and Godiva, fared badly in criteria such as deforestation and climate.

“The grim reality is that around 40% of cocoa remains untraceable with beans from deforested land still entering global supply chains,” explained Dr Julian Oram, senior director, Africa, at Mighty Earth, which also contributed to the report. “Companies are sitting on information that could shed light onto these ‘dark’ chocolate origins.

“Some of the biggest brands including Starbucks, Lindt, Godiva and Kelloggs have scored badly for tackling deforestation and climate. We know they can do better and will be encouraging them to do so.

“Others such as Mondelez, Unilever and Tesco have stayed silent and refused to take part this year, which begs the question: What are they hiding?”

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana identified as largest chocolate producers

The survey identifies West Africa as a region producing three-quarters of the world’s cocoa, with Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana being the largest producers.

The two countries and the confectionery giants that operate there often receive much criticism for failures in tackling claims of illegal deforestation, child labour, and dismissing workers’ rights.

Revealing details on how the survey was conducted, Be Slavery Free said that five companies, namely FrieslandCampina, General Mills, Krüger Group, Unilever, and Mondelēz, opted not to participate.

This is the second year General Mills has not participated. Unilever and Mondelēz have participated previously. This is the first year the Krüger Group opted not to participate.

“Starbucks and Storck agreed to participate in 2023 after declining in 2022. We welcome them on board and genuinely appreciate their participation,” the campaign group said.

Smaller chocolate manufacturers leading the way in ethical sourcing

Now in its fourth edition, The Chocolate Scorecard 2023 also revealed Original Beans, Tonys Chocolonely, Beyond Good, Halba, Ferrero, Nestlé, and Mars as the best performing companies in addressing deforestation.

Commenting on the ranking, Swiss chocolate manufacturer Halba said, “This distinction is the result of Halbas many years of commitment to sustainability, which includes pioneering sustainability projects and activities at the source.”

These companies are also leading the way in tackling child and forced labour in their supply chains, alongside Alter Eco, Whittaker’s and Hershey.

Ben & Jerry’s was also included on this list, despite the latter’s parent company, Unilever, refusing to take part and claiming to be deforestation free in its cocoa supply chain by 2023.

Nestlé, Mars-Wrigley and Hershey make improvements in Chocolate Scoreboard ranking

Be Slavery Free pointed out that Nestlé and its rival chocolate makers, Mars-Wrigley and Hershey, have improved their Chocolate Scoreboard performance when compared to last year.

In January 2022, Nestlé agreed to a $1.4bn initiative that would pay African cocoa farmers directly to tackle poverty as the root cause of child labour.

Nestlé’s plan followed a lawsuit by International Rights Advocates against the food giants and Cargill, which claimed the two food corporations were complicit in the use of forced child labour. The case was heard at the US Supreme Court, wher it was eventually thrown out.

“Child labour and modern slavery are part of the cocoa industry and present in the chocolate we buy,” said Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO at anti-slavery charity Unseen.

“This year’s Scorecard shows that of the 56 companies taking part, only nine achieved the best rating for addressing child and forced labour in their supply chains.

“We hope consumers use this information to buy ethical chocolate free of human rights’ abuses.”


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