Uniting Church members are encouraged to combat trafficked labour by purchasing ethical chocolate this Easter.
The Slavery-Free Chocolate campaign aims to stop the exploitation of children involved in cocoa harvesting. A coalition of anti-trafficking advocates in Victoria, including the synod’s Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit, are involved in the campaign.
The West African countries of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are two of the largest producers and exporters of cocoa in the world. Approximately 70 per cent of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa.
The majority of the world’s chocolate is produced using cocoa beans harvested by trafficked children or forced labour. Many children pick cocoa from an early age for minimal or no wages. They work long hours in dangerous conditions, with little opportunity to attend school. The International Labor Rights Forum estimates 500,000 to 1.5 million children are involved in West Africa’s cocoa sector.
By purchasing cocoa beans certified Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ Certified, consumers will support cocoa farmers who engage in good labour practices.
Efforts to promote chocolate production through slavery-free supply chains are having an impact in Australia. Five years ago, slavery-free Easter chocolates were not available on supermarket shelves. The past few years have seen some major successes:
- Cadbury dairy milk chocolate bars made in Australia are now certified Fairtrade.
- All Mars bars made in Australia are certified Rainforest Alliance.
- All Nestle chocolate made in Australia and NZ are UTZ certified.
- Haighs source 70 per cent of their cocoa from UTZ certified farms. Their Easter range is 100 per cent certified.
- Aldi have a wide variety of UTZ certified Easter chocolate.
The Easter season is a time of high chocolate consumption, as well as an opportunity to send a strong message to chocolate producers. The Slavery-Free Chocolate campaign team has released a kit containing advocacy ideas and a list of Australian stores that stock certified chocolate.
If you would like a copy of the kit emailed or posted to you, contact Social Justice Officer Jill Ruzbacky at Jill.Ruzbacky@victas.uca.org.au. You can also get regular updates from the campaign’s Facebook page.
Image by Nestle via Flickr.
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