The truth about chocolate is this: chocolate and slavery are currently hand-in-hand. But, they don’t have to be. This week I sent a letter to U.S. President Biden asking for his support and action with ending modern-day slavery and child labor within the cocoa industry. Alongside Tony’s Chocolonely and millions across the globe, we are petitioning for governments to put an end to this human rights issue and prioritize a plan seeking equality and ethical working conditions within the cocoa industry.
The Truth About Chocolate
Two years ago I learned about Tony’s Chocolonely and their mission to revolutionize the chocolate/cocoa industry. I learned that Hershey Co, Mondelez, Nestlé, Mars, and other chocolate companies are all endorsing and encouraging modern-day slavery, child labor, in addition to the environmental issues their farming and production are contributing to. Cocoa is a highly sought-after resource and is an ingredient used to make our beloved chocolate. As of 2021, Tony’s Chocolonely is one of the only ethical, fair-trade, and environmentally friendly chocolate companies in the world. Tony’s was founded with the mission of putting an end to modern-day slavery within the cocoa industry and challenge the large corporations to follow their employment, farming, production, and business methods to ensure just working conditions and an ethical industry.
Slavery was not eradicated in the civil rights movement and is still at large today and contributing to one of the larger industries. The global cocoa industry in 2020 grossed a whopping $130.56 billion US dollars. It is projected to “grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.6% from 2020 to 2027.” Click here to read the official report.
Cocoa Industry Facts:
30,000 people within the cocoa industry are in modern-day slavery
1.56 million children are working illegally within the cocoa industry
Ghana and Ivory Coast are home to 60% of the world’s cocoa
Over half of the world’s cocoa is produced in areas where the primary population is Black and other people of color, this highlights the very issue 2020 further brought to light––the inequality of the races. Black and brown families are forced to choose between providing for themselves and their families through slavery or death and further unlivable conditions. Children in particular are being subjected to these at an unfathomable age. In addition, human beings are being sold and transported illegally and against their will to work in this industry. Children are ripped out of their mother’s arms and shoved into vans, taken hundreds––maybe even thousands of miles away from their homes and their body becomes a weapon to their soul––to their past, present, and their future. This article in The Washington Post provides more insight in story form about the lives of those working in the cocoa industry and farming the product.
Hershey, Nestlé, and Mars have broken their promise made twenty years ago to stop utilizing child labor. They promised to create ethical and just working conditions so children would no longer harvest cocoa. They have failed. Tony’s Chocolonely is calling “time’s up” on their broken promise and demanding action to be taken to free these men, women, and children who are shackled to the ground that provides us momentarily moment of comfort and delight. As consumers, we are paying for slavery and relishing in lives destroyed for what? A piece of caramel chocolate? Are human lives really worth less than a $1 bite-size candy bar?
How To Ask The U.S. Government For Action & Policy Change — Making 100% Slave-Free Chocolate Law:
We need clear legislation that holds companies accountable. The truth about chocolate is jarring but we can change the impact and the industry.
Step 1: Take Action
Sign Tony’s Chocolonely petition (click here). To make sure your voice is heard, write a follow-up letter to president Joe Biden (if you’re in the USA) or to your government officials. I’ve included a letter template provided by Tony’s, below.
Step 2: Use Your Purchasing Power
Your money is your power. Your money speaks for you and tells people who you are, what your stand for, and what you think is right in the world. Now that you know about the toxicity and human rights issues within the cocoa industry, I encourage and plead with you to reallocate your dollars (or whichever currency you use) to back companies that are just, ethical, and put people first. The next time you purchase chocolate, order Tony’s Chocolonely. The big chocolate companies that are endorsing and creating slaves can’t continue to do this if we the people stop buying from them. Since they won’t change their business, farming, and production methods, we’ll change companies.
Step 3: Share The Knowledge
Send this post to friends, family, colleagues––anyone you know who loves/eats/purchases chocolate. We can respectfully educate our loved ones and community members about this injustice. Together we can build a fair and human cocoa industry with the purchase of one Tony’s Chocolonely bar at a time.
Letter Template Demanding Action For Slave-Free Chocolate:
Now that you know the truth about chocolate, it’s important to lend your voice for change. Use this letter template as a way to write to your politicians. For those in other countries, you will need to replace some wording with information relevant to your government and/or adhere to your government’s style for contacting officials. Use Tuesday’s post (click here) as a guide to learn how easy it is to add a wax seal to your letter. When you send the letter below, try out the wax seal!
Dear President Biden,
For more than two decades, the cocoa industry has pledged to end child labor on cocoa farms in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and each year they fail to meet that pledge. Most recently, a report paid for by the U.S. government shows that more than 1.5 million children are still working on these farms, often under hazardous conditions.
The failure of the chocolate industry to come through on its pledge simply reinforces the reality of inequality. The chocolate companies reap profits from what is considered a luxury while those who produce it earn too little income to survive and have no incentive to cease relying on children, some as young as five, to engage in work that is not only hazardous but also denies these children education, access to health care, and other essential needs.
The issue, Mr. President, is that the protocols to which the industry agreed were voluntary ones. There was no penalty for failing to meet the pledges, This must change.
I also ask that your administration becomes a leader in ending all forms of illegal child labor in the cocoa trade. I ask that your administration support the passage of legislation that mandates due diligence in the cocoa supply chain and that failure to eradicate the worst forms of child labor be met with all appropriate sanctions.
I understand that you have many priorities, but I would also like to ask that this human rights and foreign policy issue also become a top priority for you. Without your support and without your Administration’s efforts to make this a priority, the next report will show that millions of children will effectively remain modern slaves.
YOUR NAME HERE