Cadbury faces new charges of child labor on cocoa plantations in Ghana | Child labor

Food giant owner of the Cadbury brand is embroiled in new child employment allegations after an investigation obtained footage of children working with machetes on cocoa farms in its supply chain .

Children as young as 10 years old have reportedly been found working in Ghana harvesting cocoa pods to supply Mondelēz International, owner of Cadbury. Campaigners say farmers are paid less than £2 a day and cannot afford to hire adult workers.

Channel 4 Dispatches The survey, released on Monday, comes more than two decades after the chocolate industry pledged to eliminate child labour.

Ayn Riggs, founder of Slave Free Chocolate, which campaigns against child labor on cocoa plantations, said: “It is horrifying to see these children using these long machetes, which are sometimes half their size. The chocolate companies promised to clean this up over 20 years ago. They knew they were profiting from child labor and broke their promises.

The Cadbury revelations come as millions of pounds will be spent on chocolate treats for Easter this weekend. Over £300m is spent on Easter eggs and novelties each year, including over 80m on boxed eggs. The chocolate market is worth £5.6 billion in the UK, according to market research firm Mintel. It includes approximately 330 million Cadbury Creme eggs that are consumed each year.

Over £300million is spent on Easter eggs each year. Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose/The Observer

Mondelēz, which made global profits of more than £3.3 billion last year, has a sustainability program, Cocoa Life. Its logo is branded on its products, including Cadbury Dairy Milk, and its website states: “No amount of child labor in the cocoa supply chain should be acceptable.

Under the Cocoa Life program, Mondelēz had, by the end of 2020, mapped approximately 167,800 cocoa farms that supply its companies in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic and Brazil.

At one of the farms supposed to supply Mondelēz, two children armed with machetes were filmed by the documentary crew weeding the plantations. Children were also filmed using sharp knives to open cocoa pods and swinging long sticks with blades attached to harvest the pods from cocoa trees. None of the children were wearing protective clothing. A farmer’s daughter, who claimed to supply Mondelēz, said she slit her foot using a long machete.

On one of the smallholdings, a niece of the farmer said she thought she was going to her uncle’s farm to help with childcare, but says she was forced to work long hours at home. farm and she was not allowed to go to school. When asked why she wasn’t talking, she said she was “scared”.

According to Ghanaian law, it is illegal for children under the age of 13 to work on cocoa plantations. It is also prohibited for anyone under the age of 18 to be involved in hazardous work.

Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa after the Ivory Coast, and the crop, along with gold, is one of its most valuable exports. A cocoa farmer will typically receive 7p from a bar of milk chocolate costing £1 in the UK and 11p from a bar of dark chocolate.

Child carrying a basket on a cocoa farm
Children as young as 10 are said to be forced to work long hours on cocoa plantations. Photo: Channel 4

This means that many live in extreme poverty while facing increasing costs from the impacts of climate change, due to unpredictable weather patterns and changes in crop-threatening pests and diseases. Ninety percent of the world’s cocoa beans are harvested on small family farms with less than two hectares of land.

In 2001, a cocoa industry agreement agreed to eliminate child labor. He was backed by the World Cocoa Foundation, a trade group whose members include the world’s largest cocoa and chocolate companies, Nestlé, Mars Wrigley and Mondelēz.

But the targets of the protocol were carried over and adjusted in 2005 and 2008. A revised target in 2010, aimed at reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector in West Africa by 70% by 2020, was missed. Campaigners say child labor is still rampant in the chocolate industry.

A study by the University of Chicago social research group NORC in 2020 found that 1.56 million children were involved in the cocoa industry in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

The report found that the prevalence rate of child labor in cocoa production among farming households in cocoa growing areas in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana increased between 2008/09 and 2018/19. There was a 62 percent increase in cocoa production in both countries during this period.

Joanna Ewart-James, executive director of Freedom United, an international organization that campaigns against child labor in the cocoa supply chain, said: “Slavery and child labor have plagued the industry in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – which produce 60% of the world’s cocoa – for decades. Cocoa farmers do not earn an income that allows them to recruit the labor they need.

On Friday, Freedom United will release a scorecard rating global chocolate companies on their labor and environmental practices. The campaign group says Mondelēz has invested in community initiatives to tackle child labor but, along with other big companies, has to pay farmers more money for its cocoa.

Slave Free Chocolate compiles a list of chocolate companies that use ethically grown chocolate.

Martin Short, President of the World Cocoa Foundation, said, “Treating child labor abuse as a stand-alone issue will not work until we address the root cause of child labor, which is farmer poverty.

Cadbury, one of Britain’s most famous companies, was controversially acquired by US food company Kraft Foods in January 2010. The US food giant changed its name to Mondelēz International in October 2012 .

Mondelēz considers that a wide range of measures are necessary to combat child labour. The company has participated in research that shows that increasing the price of cocoa alone will not lift many farmers out of poverty, as they farm on small acreages.

A spokesperson for Mondelēz International said: “We are deeply concerned about the incidents documented in the Dispatches program. We explicitly prohibit child labor in our operations and have worked tirelessly to take a stand against it, making extensive efforts through our Cocoa Life program to improve child protection in the communities where we source cocoa, including in Ghana.

“The well-being of the children and families presented is our primary concern and we are committed to investigating further so that we can provide all necessary support. As part of our Cocoa Life programme, we have child labor monitoring and remediation systems in place in Ghana, which means that community members and NGO partners are trained to provide assistance to vulnerable children , and once identified, we can help deal with any child labor cases.” The company said it had requested additional information from the Dispatches team so she can investigate.

Cadbury Exposed: Dispatches is on Channel 4 at 8 p.m. Monday

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