Nearly 20 years after the world’s major chocolate manufacturers pledged to abolish employment abuses, hazardous child labour remains rife in their supply chains, a new study finds. Back in 2001, big brands such as Nestlé, Mars and Hershey signed a cross-sector accord aimed at eliminating egregious child labour. Despite missing deadlines to deliver on their pledge in 2005, 2008 and 2010, they continue to insist that ending the illegal practice remains their top concern. The overall proportion of children working has gone up by 14 percentage points in the past decade.
Research from the University of Chicago finds that more than two-fifths (43%) of all children aged between five and 17 in cocoa-growing regions of Ghana and Ivory Coast – the world’s largest cocoa producers – are engaged in hazardous work.
“In the past 20 years, the cocoa industry has invested enormous skill and resources in public relations around sustainability, but the increase in child labour demonstrates it has utterly failed to bring that same expertise and investment to create real sustainability.”