The Washington Post recently published an excellent article, “Cocoa’s Child Laborers,” detailing the issues with child labor and unsafe working conditions in the global cacao supply chain.
The article explains how, for nearly twenty years, the large industrial chocolate companies have missed goals to eradicate child labor from cacao production. These goals were set collaboratively involving many major industrial chocolate companies, members of the U.S. congress and representatives from foreign governments.
Based on the numbers provided in the article it seems that over an eighteen-year span the major chocolate companies have spent less than 0.0081% of annual sales to address this issue. It’s reasonable to assume that if these companies were truly interested in solving problems with the cacao supply chain they would have dedicated far more than one hundredth of a percent of annual industry sales to the effort.
One thing the article didn’t mention is how craft chocolate makers have made an effort to address supply chain issues by paying premiums for their cacao, visiting the farms from which they source, and developing personal relationships with farmers. In the craft chocolate world many smaller, non-industrial chocolate makers firmly believe in the ethical treatment of workers and supply chain transparency, and their business models are built upon these standards.
We’re one of many craft chocolate companies built on the idea of ethical sourcing and transparency throughout the entire chocolate making process. Our fine flavor, single origin chocolate is made with cacao beans we’ve sourced directly from farmers throughout the Americas, and we’ve spent years developing direct, long-term, quality-focused and equitable relationships with cacao farmers and producers including visits to their farms and direct investment in their operations. These relationships ensure alignment regarding best farming, harvest and post-harvest protocols, ethical treatment of workers, overall environmental sustainability, economic feasibility, and top quality production of fine flavor cacao beans.
Rather than relying on exceedingly low commodity prices which give rise to inequity, we pay premiums of up to 400% of the commodity price. This price reflects the added work and skill involved in growing fine flavor beans, because when farmers produce top quality cacao we can make top quality chocolate. We believe that by having open and direct communication, setting clear expectations and paying more for quality we can shift more power to the producers and empower communities.
We could not make our truly unique single origin chocolate without the fine flavor cacao we receive from our talented and committed farmers and producers. We are grateful for the opportunity to interact directly with them and to help bring about positive change. And we’ll always do our best to try and explain what ethical sourcing means and why it’s non-negotiable in the world of chocolate. Education and action are the keys to real change in ending child labor and unsafe working conditions in cacao.
While the world of industrial chocolate and commodity cacao struggles to make headway in combating their sourcing challenges many craft chocolate makers are continuing to address ethical issues when making their sourcing decisions. And don’t just take our word for it – check out this chocolate map from The Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute which lists craft chocolate makers around the world!