Paper 2 and haiku (blog 8)

Chocolate Production

African slaves

Made all your food

What are we all going to do?

I plan on looking at child labor and slavery in the production of chocolate, or more specifically cocoa, through the relativism standpoint to discuss the chocolate manufacturers’ choices. With 75% of the worlds chocolate supply being provided by the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the two impoverished West African countries are prone to child labor and in some cases slavery. Workers are sometimes brought in from surrounding country Mali as slaves where they are whipped and beaten for working too slowly or attempting to escape.

Recent reports have drawn criticism to the large chocolate companies such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle and what they can do to prevent the working conditions. What can or should chocolate companies do about the working conditions of employees on coca farms? Similar to the Apple and Nike cases, would you as a consumer be willing to boycott chocolate products? As a consumer we only seem to reinforce the horrible working conditions that thousands of coca farmers face, but I’m not sure if it is a chocolate companies duty to stop what is in many ways a cultural norm.

The obvious response to combat the issue is for NGO’s, reporters and the local governments to pile on pressure to the coca producers in these countries. This method thus far has been unsuccessful, since recent reports hit large-scale media the industry has “become increasingly secretive” and like the Nike and Apple cases chocolate manufacturers do not have a large incentive to change. The situation is made worse by the governments’ lack of control as well as reported corruption. If companies so desired they could choose to import more coca from countries in which there has yet to be any reports of child labor or slavery, such as Latin America. This however could result in increases in prices as well as further drive the countries in to poverty by abandoning the countries’ number one export.

The majority of the suggestions as to how governments and NGO’s will be successful in reducing or illuminating the child labor and slavery in the production of chocolate rests in the hands of the chocolate companies. As with the cases of Nike and Apple I, at this stage of my research, do not think changes will be made in manufacturers ways until there is large enough support from everyday people.


3 thoughts on “Chocolate Production

  1. I really enjoyed your blog post, and although I never knew how bad the situation is, it seems to be a real terrible issue. My question is, like we discussed in class about ability to aid, etc. do you thinks its Hershey’s job to stop what’s going on, or the governments of those countries to stop what’s happening?

  2. I never really thought about where my chocolate came from and how it was made. I agree that it is important and almost necessary for people to be involved in NGO and the cause for something to create change within in the industry.

  3. THe video conflates child soldiers and chocolate? Unclear.. At least in its images. Is there a relationship between the two? Is it a source you are using?

    There is plenty to work with in terms of cultural relativism and rights or deontology. You make a quick reference to differing norms. DO you mean about child labor? I wonder if there is a way to balance some allowance for differing cultures while also clearly labeling as unethical some practices. For example, a tradition of children 7,8,9 helping in herding, helping in household production, doing light work is a far cry from being locked in a cocao-producing plant and being withheld wages. Part of this is differences in mode of economy.

    I think you want to cleanly parse the case of Nestle and sourcing from the larger policy picture. For the latter, you could look at what “everyday people” could do as policy and strategy to push for the changes. This would involve writing a policy paper for something like an NGO or a coalition of them, for example.

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