Chocolate firms act to give cocoa trade an ethical face

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Chocolate Trade

Chocolate firms act to give cocoa trade an ethical face
Certification promised to outlaw labour abuses among suppliers

Global chocolate manufacturers are pumping $5m a year into a certification scheme designed to stamp out abusive labour practices in the cocoa trade.

Companies including Nestlé, Mars and Cadbury will roll out a scheme that should cover 50% of the cocoa growing areas of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana within three years.

Independent inspectors will monitor conditions on cocoa farms, which will be certified to give buyers assurance that the "worst forms of child labour" have not been employed.

The move follows allegations about abusive labour practices, which have prompted a series of investigations into conditions on cocoa farms and an extensive review of the socio-economic impact of cocoa production, said the president of the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate & Confectionery Association, Malachy McReynolds.

He added: "Tackling the problem is far more complex than it sounds because the supply chain is so fragmented. There are some 1.5m cocoa farms in West Africa, most of which are less than 10 hectares in size. There has also been a civil war in Côte d'Ivoire, which hasn't made things any easier."

He said that Fair Trade was not the answer as producer co-ops could not supply the quantities of cocoa required by major manufacturers. If the industry could ensure through certification that farms did not employ abusive practices, sourcing cocoa on the international commodity markets should remain a safe and responsible means of buying in bulk, he said.

"But you can't just look at labour practices in isolation," he claimed. "We are working with NGOs, local government and the International Labour Organisation to support a variety of initiatives from education to crop research."

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