Cocoa. The main ingredient for the most popular candy in the world—chocolate. More often than not, we rarely ever consider where, what and how most of the products that we buy have come about. Most of us, just buy them and consume them and then buy them again. A cycle is thus formed and is fueled by our demand to the producers of those goods. With Halloween fast approaching, stores are stocked with a variety of chocolate products to prepare for Halloween. But, do we ever stop and wonder where and how those sugar filled chocolate candies were made?
Common ingredients for most include: sugar, butter, milk, cocoa and what is not listed on the wrapper—a dash of child labor.
The Hershey Company is the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America. They are also one of the many companies that are found to employ children in their supply chain.
In 2001, a documentary titled, ‘Slavery: A Global Investigation,’ was released. It exposed not only slavery but also the extreme working conditions that children are forced into. It showed people the brutal reality of what and who it takes to produce the confections most of us eat wholeheartedly and with pleasure. Companies such as The Hershey Co. obtain their supply of cocoa from small poverty stricken farmers who then ’employ’ children. However, more often than not, apart from horrible working conditions, the children are not employed but more so misled and trafficked.
West African countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast are the leading suppliers of cocoa beans. They produce and supply over two thirds of the world’s supply. In 2014, the Ivory Coast alone produced over 1.5 million tonnes of cocoa beans.
Due to immense poverty and cocoa farmers themselves earning on average less than $2 per day, children are forced to work in plantations. As a result, many grow up without an education and thus, the cycle of poverty continues.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines child labor as, “Work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.”
Today, there are still over 200 million children worldwide that are employed to work in horrendous conditions. Many of which are in the agriculture sector.
The ‘guilty pleasure’ of having chocolate takes on a new form, one that all of us chocolate consumers should consider.