The Bitter Side of The Chocolate Industry

Aww, chocolate. The thought of eating it makes my mouth water. I love my dark chocolate, especially with almonds inside. It’s a girl’s best friend, isn’t it?

We all love our sweets, but there’s a hidden secret the companies are keeping from you. In America and Europe, most of our chocolate comes from Hersey, Nestle, and Cadbury.

What the industry isn’t telling you is that these companies, and plenty of others are getting their cocoa products from two West African countries: Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The two supply 75% of cocoa in the international market.

With the world’s desire for chocolate, and sales booming, others are being forced to work. Slavery has been increasing like never before in the Ivory Coast. The UN recorded 15,000 Malian children are being enslaved in cocoa farms. UNICEF estimates over 200,000 children are working at the worst cocoa farms along the Ivory Coast.

Throughout the years, the chocolate industry has continued to grow. Cocoa has become popular to grow in West Africa for export. Like big businesses usually do, as the demand increases, the demand of cheap cocoa increases too. Farmers are now struggling to make money selling cocoa beans themselves, and resort to child labor in order to maintain competitive prices.

Young children start working to support their families. Often times, they’re tricked into working at the farms and are told that they’ll make good money. Many children are sold by their parents to traffickers or farm owners. Even worse, it’s been reported that tons of  young boys have been abducted by traffickers in their small villages and sold to work.

If a child is sold by their family, a sum of the money they earn goes to the relative who sold them. Children do not see their families for years. Some never see them again.

Children as young as 7 years old have been documented working at these farms under horrible circumstances and are never able to receive an education. Most workers fall in between the ages of 12-16 years old.

So how does their daily routine go?

Their workday begins at sunrise and ends at sun down. Using a machete, the children are forced to climb cocoa trees and cut the bean pods. After finishing cutting the bean pods, they are then forced to drag or carry huge bags through the forest. The huge bags are incredibly heavy, but if the children stop to take a break they get beat up.

They must hold their pod on one hand, and use the other cutting into it with their machete for the cocoa beans. With such a dangerous and sharp weapon, the children all have scars from severe cuts.

The Ivory Coast has numerous prolific insects, and the farms are sprayed with plenty of chemicals to protect the pods. Who sprays these dangerous chemicals without any protective equipment or gear? Children as young as 12.

Even once their work day is over, they are often found sleeping in windowless buildings  without clean water or bathroom access. For meals, they’re fed with cheap food like bananas and corn paste.

All of this violates the International Labor Organization (ILO)  child labor standards.

In 2001, two US lawmakers tried to put a stop to all of this and the Cocoa Protocol was signed in September that year.  The would mandate a labeling system in chocolate. Unfortunately, not everything was resolved due to the chocolate industry’s concerns. The certification process no longer is forcing companies to write “child labor free” on their packages as originally planned.

With more attention growing, the cocoa business becomes more and more secretive.

STOP supporting these big companies that are violating human rights!

You can still enjoy your love of chocolate! Simply look for organic Fair Trade cocoa products available at various grocery stores. These Fair Trade chocolates are certified companies that promise the farmers a fair price and most importantly, strictly forbids any slavery.

Here’s a lists of Fair Trade Chocolates that are easily found in popular stores:

– 365 Dark Chocolate Bar (Whole Foods Market)
– Alce Nero’s dark chocolate
– Allison’s Gourmet
– Amano
– Angell Chocolate Bars
– Askinoise
– Boardwalk Chocolates (not the white chocolate)
– Café Gratitude
– Chocolate Ibarra
– Chocolatl
– Chuao Chocolatier
– Cocolo (Australia & New Zealand)
– Coconut Bliss (they were recently bought by a dairy company)
– Coco-Zen
– Cotton Tree Chocolate (70% bar – only in Belize)
– Crispy Cat
– Denman Island Chocolate
– Eat Pastry
– Edensoy
– Equal Exchange
– Essential Living Foods
– The Fearless Chocolate Company
– Frontier
– Gnosis
– Go Macro’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Crunch
– Goss Chocolate (dark and special dark chocolate, nibs and cocoa powder)
– Justin’s Nut Butter
– Kakaw Belizean Chocolate (Belize)
– Kakayo Chocolate Company
– Kopali Organics
– La Siembra – Cocoa Camino
– Love Street Livin
– Loving Earth (New Zealand)
– Lulu’s Chocolates
– Madécasse’s Chocolate
– Mast Brothers Chocolate
– Michel Cluizel (Dark Chocolate, Single Estate)
– Mindo Chocolate
– Nada Moo
– Nature’s Path
– Navitas Naturals
– Newman’s Own
– New Tree
– Nutiva (hemp protein powder chocolate shake)
– The Oakland Chocolate Company
– Obsessive Confection Disorder
– Organica (Venture Foods)
– Organic Fair
– Plamil
– Rapunzel
– René Rey Chocolates
– República del Cacao
– Righteously Raw
– Sacred Chocolate
– Salazon Chocolate
– SaviSeed
– Scarborough Fair (New Zealand)
– Scream Sorbet
– Shaman Chocolates
– Sjaaks (Eli’s Earth Bars)
– Sunflour Baking Company
– Sunfood’s Chocolate
– Sunridge Farms
– Sweet Earth Chocolates
– Sweet & Sara
– Taza Chocolates
– Temptation
– Theo Chocolate
– Turtle Mountain (organic only)
– Ulimana
– Ultimate SuperFoods
– Vivani
– Whistler Chocolate
– Wild Boar’s Dark Chocolate (Hagensborg Chocolates)
– Zenergy Powerballs


About the author

Jade Mason