There is high consumer demand for chocolate that is free from child labour and deforestation in the developed world.
The fourth edition of the Chocolate Scorecard surveyed the world’s biggest chocolate companies to find out how they are addressing key challenges in the cocoa-chocolate value chain.
This year’s scorecard ranked 83 of the largest chocolate companies (brands), retailers and processes on their performance in six sustainability categories: namely traceability; transparency; child labour; living income; deforestation and climate; agroforestry; and chemical management.
The survey found that claims of chocolate companies cannot necessarily be trusted. It was also found that only 11 percent of chocolate companies surveyed can fully trace the source of their cocoa beans.
Furthermore, it revealed that on average 40 percent of cocoa is purchased indirectly – meaning the buyer does not know who they bought from or where it came from.
We are in complete agreement with the report when it states that farmers need to be paid more for their cocoa to ensure a sustainable life. It cites a recent report by Oxfam which claims that the “net income of farmers decreased by an estimated 16.38 percent between the 2019/20 and 2021/22 harvesting season”.
This is the crux of the matter! Chocolate companies, on the other hand, are making windfall profits at the expense of farmers. For instance, the global chocolate market was valued at US$131.9billion in 2021 and is projected to grow at 4.50 percent annually.
Although the latest Chocolate Scorecard also indicated that about 1.5 million children work on cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, with 95 percent of them exposed to the worst forms of child labour, we seriously believe this is relative because it is our candid view that it is misunderstood.
The findings from the survey however noted that significant progress is being made by companies in their efforts to address this issue.
Additionally, licenced buying companies (LBCs) are being urged to source their cocoa from areas that are not deforested as part of efforts aimed at addressing deforestation.
The report was led by three research institutions – Macquire University Sydney, The Open University-UK and the University of Wollongong – and coordinated by Be Slavery Free, Australia.