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'How do I choose my Easter Chocolate?' - Be Slavery Free

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Easter is chocolate time! Easter Eggs, rabbits and bars are a delight for the children. But on the other end of the chocolate supply chain there are also children - they are caught in child labour and even child slavery to produce these Easter delights. So how do we choose chocolate that has been checked for child labour and slavery? How do we help the estimated 1.5million children in West Africa might have a better life?

This is the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour and it is estimated (International Labour Organisation) that we shockingly have 152million children in child labour globally. The chocolate industry has known of this for 20 years and in 2001 said they would eliminate it by 2004… then 2008… then in 2010 said they would cut it back by 70% by 2020. But we probably have more children in these hazardous situations in 2021 than any of those dates.

Child Labour is not about helping parents around the house, farm or business, it is defined (by the ILO) as work that deprives children of their: childhood,

their potential

and their dignity,

and that is harmful to physical and mental development

interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school

obliging them to leave school prematurely

or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work

Child labour continues the insidious cycle of extreme poverty. Things are changing (albeit slowly) and the chocolate industry is at last taking some action and helping not only children in labour and slavery but also taking action to repair and improve the environment for these children’s future. Cote d’Ivoire - the producer of 40% of the world’s cocoa - has seen 80% deforestation in the last 40 years mainly due to cocoa growing.

Retailers and Supermarkets make most money in the chocolate supply chain and therefore we believe they have responsibility not only for their "own brands" but also for the procurement policies for the other branded chocolates they stock. Retailers are way behind chocolate manufacturers on the whole but Woolworths (Australia), Countdown (New Zealand) and Aldi Sud (including Australia) stood out as world leaders. Woolworths/Countdown is the only retailer in the world to trace the cocoa in chocolate they brand but on all the products that include cocoa such as cake mixes and biscuits. Woolworths and Aldi were the only retailers in Australia to mention cocoa as a risk in their submitted Australian Modern Slavery Statement.

"A staggering 180 million wrapped or boxed Easter eggs are purchased every year. Poverty is the key reason for slavery and child labour and not enough of the chocolate industry’s money goes to cocoa farmers themselves," said Fuzz Kitto, National CoDirector of Be Slavery Free in Australia. "Most cocoa farmers earn under $1 per day, with women cocoa farmers making as little as $0.30 daily and they continue to be especially hard hit by economic disruption in this pandemic."

Most people are going to buy their Easter chocolate in the next few days, so how do we choose what chocolate products to buy this Easter? What can we do that will encourage and speed up the changes? Choose to buy chocolate from companies and retailers that are making the effort to make these changes. Your choice is your voice!

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