When Easter rolls around, I’ll be the first to admit that all thoughts turn to chocolate. And I’m not the only one, as chocolate is a $100-million industry in Australia and a $100-billion industry world wide. But also like many people, until recently I gave little thought to how cacao was harvested – where and how – and I had no knowledge that much of it involves child or trafficked labour.
A new report released by World Vision Australia reveals that most of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, where children as young as eight years old are taken from their families to work in the cocoa fields of Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
“We’re eating cheap chocolate because of trafficked children, child slavery, hazardous labour, and it’s so simply fixed,” said Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision. “It’s simply fixed by as much as two cents extra on a $10 chocolate bar.”
The issue for consumers though, is that even through most of us would be willing to pay a little more for it, fair trade chocolate is often not easy to find. A quick trip to the local supermarket this week to stock up on Easter supplies was disappointing for the lack of fair trade options – and rather than buy the cheap chocolate that was there in abundance, I went home empty handed.
“Our report shows only 1 to 3 percent of global cocoa supply is ethically certified today. Despite the best projections for growth in ethical cocoa, it’s expected 60-75 percent globally will still be uncertified in 2018,” Costello said.
So, like many things – unless consumers choose to “vote” with their dollar to support ethical brands, we will continue to contribute to the problem. I guess this gives new meaning to the Easter egg hunt … how far do we have to hunt for fair trade brands?
Here is World Vision’s guide to buying Fair Trade chocolate in Australia:
Click here to read the full report: Our Guilty Pleasure: Exploitative Child Labour in the Chocolate Industry
*with files from ABC News