Chocolate = Child Slavery?


West Africa produces more than sixty-seven percent of the world’s cocoa bean; forty-three percent of that percentage is harvested from the Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast is home to more than six hundred thousand cocoa farms where approximately forty percent of the population is involved in its production.

In 1999 and 2000 cocoa prices were reduced and rural poverty began to rise. As cocoa prices became an all time low the government could no longer protect the small farm owners. This resulted in the cutting of salaries and a reduction in healthcare spending. This eventually led to cheap child slave labor.

Trafficking of children occurs in numerous cities in West Africa such as Mali, Benin, Cameroon, and Togo. In Mali, thousands of Children are trafficked into indentured servitude on Ivory Coast cocoa farms. This is known to occur at a bus station. Trafficking agents hang around these bus stations scoping for children without an adult or children who are begging for food. By luring the children into traveling with them, the traffickers soon sell them to small plantation owners on the Ivory Coast for cheap labor . In Benin, children are trafficked to such places as Nigeria, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast and Gabon. In these locations they are sold into slavery for agriculture, domestics or prostitution. In Cameroon, children can be sold into domestic servitude, farm labor, and sexual exploitation through Cameroon or to other West African countries. Finally, in Togo, citizens can be trafficked to the Ivory Coast, Gabon, Nigeria, the Middle East, and Europe for servitude, farm labor, and sexual exploitation. (IHS Child Slave Labor News, Teryek 2008)

equalexchange-fair-trade-organic-chocolateThis is one of the alternative companies to look for in stores that are 100% slave labor free!



  1. Johannah said,

    November 9, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Chocolate companies to NOT SUPPORT:

    Hershey (actually has a policy to *not* reveal its cocoa sources, despite a Supreme Court action to do so….legal case still going…)

  2. November 9, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Companies to support
    Newmans organic chocolate
    Endangered species chocolate
    there are a few more!

    • November 11, 2009 at 5:33 pm

      Equal Exchange
      Navitas (raw cacao powder)
      -take some melted coconut oil, some cacao powder and some agave and mix it all together, put it in ice cube tray or a bowl and stick it in the freezer. Minutes later you have your own homemade raw chocolate that tastes scrumptious and is completely fair trade if the ingredients support 100% fair trade conditions. Add whatever else you would like to mix it up: cayene pepper, goji berries, raisins, cinnamon, etc. Easy, fun, and FAIR!!

  3. Ali said,

    November 13, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Here is a website with a long list of chocolate companies and information on their organic and fair trade standing.

    The fair trade brands:
    Camino Cocoa
    Cloud Nine/Tropical Source
    Dagoba Organic Chocolate
    Green and Black’s
    Health by Chocolate
    Shaman Chocolates
    Terra Nostra Organic
    Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Cocoa


    also through this website is a link to over 200 different chocolate brands and their stance on child slavery in their chocolate. Here is the Link:

  4. Paul Roberts said,

    November 14, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I love the site! I’ve been doing some research on labor and child slavery in buisness. I found some good sites to take a look at.

  5. sj said,

    November 16, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Some of the sites cited so far are pretty old.
    and there have been significant changes in the last 2 years. Cadbury and Mars have both made major “commitments” in support of fair trade.

    “Fair Trade Chocolate Hits the Mainstream”
    This seems like good news, since this could significantly affect the whole market and change cocoa farming conditions.

    There may be something wrong with Mars’ efforts (see ) , but not to acknowledge the existence of these efforts looks ignorant.
    Letter writing and other forms of oppositional action will simply be brushed aside unless one’s objections or demands are very clear. Just saying, “why do you use child slaves?” won’t do anymore. Either there’s some genuine progress (which could be engaged), or they are well defended (by just looking good). Which is it? Could it be both?

    It seems to me that not addressing the complexities of large scale supply will only guarantee a continuation of something to complain about. I think that the largest cocoa users (Mars, Cadbury, Hersheys) have sufficient power to make lasting impact on cocoa farming conditions IF they are held to their own promises.

    Documents like the 2008 report from the International Labor Rights Forum reflect how many angles need work. see:

    Deciding on one angle and really working on it is much harder than finding people who are against child slavery (like everyone). WHAT needs to change? HOW can it be changed?

    Without really examining our own assumptions, we act from habit, finding it easier to tear down than to build and easier to attack an assumed enemy than to solve a problem with them.
    If the real position is just being against large corporations, this should be made clear. Unless we can go beneath the surface excitement of being one of the good guys, we are merely creating yet another set of self-justifying clichés.

  6. Paul Roberts said,

    December 7, 2009 at 11:39 am is a campaign style website that has many functions. They bring attention to the plight of workers in South and Central America, the increasing power of the Chevron corporation, and the promotion of Fair Trade practices around the world. Their GX campaign covers – climate change, Fair Trade agreements and child slavery in the chocolate industry, migration and issues concerning cheap labor in Central and South America- Covering the trade agreements- NAFTA, CAFTA, AFTA.

  7. Paul Roberts said,

    December 7, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Global Exchange’s website has a cool download that has a book and a curriculum unit on fair trade cocoa for schools K-6. It was developed jointly by Evergreen State college and Global Exchange.

  8. Paul Roberts said,

    December 7, 2009 at 11:44 am

    They have lots of great ideas on Fair Trade activities- reverse trick or treating, holiday caroling, Fair Trade New Year’s resolutions.

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