Paper 2 and haiku (blog 8)

Cocoa Fields


Children put to work

Slaving to give us chocolate

Save the poor children

I was reading through the list of suggested topics for our second paper and the supply chain of chocolate and slavery caught my interest. I quickly did a Google search and got immediate hits involving the Ivory Coast. I recall reading a few articles in the past about this topic, but I never looked into it again. Therefore, I figured that the widespread use of child labor, and in some cases slavery, on West African cocoa farms would be an interesting case to research for my second paper.

I found an article from the Food Empowerment Project website, that is actually an organization who “seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices” (Foodispower.org). The article is titles, “Slaver in the Chocolate Industry,” which discusses extremely harsh conditions that child are forced to grow up in. The article explains that some children end up on the farms because they need work and others are “sold” by their own relatives to traffickers or to the farm owners. The worst part is that it has been documented that traffickers often times have abducted young boys from small neighboring African countries to have them work on their farms. The article continues to describe the horrendous conditions and labor that occurs on these cocoa farms.

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There are many companies that have been known to use chocolate produced by slave labor such as, Hershey’s, Nestle, Kraft, Toblerone, and more. It appears that even these companies are aware that this is occurring in African countries where it is receiving its cocoa. It does not look as though any of these companies are taking extreme measures to fix this problem. In my opinion, this is extremely unethical as these companies should be responsible for all stakeholders that may be effected and in this case the children in Africa should be a main focus.

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8 thoughts on “Cocoa Fields

  1. I didn’t know that this issue took place on West African cocoa farms. I can’t believe young children in foreign countries are still used as slaves. This issue definitely changes my perspective of companies that use these cocoa farms to manufacture chocolate. Do you know if the companies you listed are taking any measures to combat this problem?

  2. This reminds me of the issues that have plagued Apple and Nike. While there is a probably a more ethical way of harvesting cocoa beans, using cheap labor is the way that these chocolate companies keep costs down. I can’t say that for sure, though, just because I am not incredibly educated on how the chocolate market works and where it can be produced.

  3. This made me think of Nike and their child labor scandal. I have always heard of child labor abuse within the garment industry, but I’ve rarely heard of issues within food production, specifically chocolate production. I was shocked when you said that children have been kidnapped to work on Cocoa farms. I find this extremely disturbing. There should definitely be more action taken by chocolate producing companies to prevent this and other child labor issues.

  4. I wonder who is responsible for correcting this issue. Can Nestle and other chocolate go in and try to make changes? Do we know enough about how these poor economies work to fix things?

  5. I am wondering if these children can be considered as “child labor”, as they may just do some work in their family and help their parents. Since same conditions are in China, in the remote countryside, this is the normal life for them.

  6. I’m from Hershey and I never heard of these child labor issues. I appreciate your insight Weichen. It is often hard for me to remember the cultural differences in other countries when talking about an issue such as child labor.

  7. How about they take ANY measures?

    Can you find out the actual differences in price from like Ivorian cacao versus South American? How much are they actually saving?

    Especially as it is Halloween and I have bags full of Reese’s PB cups, Snickers, and Kit Kats, I am feeling particularly badly and also angered about this.

    I can hear the argument “it would eat into profit” to switch. Enron reported manipulated profit from revenue that didn’t exist. Likewise, Nestle’s profits form chocolate are manipulated because the fair market value of labor has been hidden and stolen.

    THIS IS NOT capitalism. It is piracy, robbery, and theft.

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