Blog: Cocoa

Commit to Ending Child Labor Now!

Today, as we commemorate World Day Against Child Labor, we are calling on policymakers, consumers, corporate leaders and individuals everywhere to redouble their commitment to the fight to end child labor. The global community has made great progress over the past twenty years, but recently that progress has slowed. In 2016 the International Labour Organization (ILO) reported there were still 152 million child laborers – which is exactly 152 million too many. Those are children who are losing out on their childhood, their education, and their future.

Of Gods and Goblins

This week, as millions of American kids prepare their costumes for the biggest chocolate consumption holiday of the year – Halloween – most are unaware of the 2 million children laboring in West African cocoa fields.  Likely none share industry experts’ worries about the sustainability of cocoa supplies in the world.  Yet cocoa, which has the lofty Latin name, Theo Broma (fruit of the gods), has proven to be one of the most difficult development conundrums for those who advocate for international trade as a path to prosperity for developing nations. 

Remembering Mom in a Time of Resistance

Originally published in Huffington Post

This Mother’s Day, it is 50 weeks and three days that I am living without a mother, missing her every single day and so grateful for the drive and fight she instilled in me to demand an equal voice for myself and for all women. As the daughter of immigrants – a home-based seamstress and a coal miner who plied his trade as a stone mason on the weekends – my mother committed every waking moment to making our world better than she had it.

This Thanksgiving week: act against child slavery in our food system!

It's Thanksgiving week, and we have a veritable feast of actions you can take on behalf of vulnerable workers!   

This week is both the inaugural End Child Slavery Week and 3rd annual International Food Workers Week. We promote both of these important initiatives, with their distinct but overlapping objectives, because they touch so many of our campaigns; especially the plight of children who labor on cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

ILRF Loses Leading Child Rights Advocate

All of us at ILRF were tremendously saddened to learn that U. Roberto Romano – our beloved Robin – passed away at his home last week. Robin was a tireless advocate for children’s rights, as well as an inspiring and supportive colleague. He was also an amazing cinematographer and highly acclaimed filmmaker, who dedicated his life to reporting on and exposing the exploitation of children. For ILRF, Robin’s support and guidance was essential to keeping a spotlight on this ongoing global tragedy. 

2012 Wrap Up: Which Chocolate Companies Lead and Which Ones Lag?

First, a look at the funds designated to fight child labor in cocoa. Programs and initiatives that are considered part of the industry commitment must be approved by the CLCCG and must be in line with the Framework of Action, which the companies signed in 2010 (see the table below).

Hershey, the largest chocolate maker in the United States, rakes in over $5 billion in revenue every year. Barry Callebaut is one of the largest suppliers of chocolate in the world. As two of the biggest chocolate companies in the world, Barry Callebaut and Hershey are just as responsible as their counterparts for the atrocious condition of the cocoa industry. And yet, both have been miserly when it comes to the fight to remove children from the cocoa fields of West Africa.

No Chocolate in the Cocoa Capital of the World

Most groups talked about the need for community
organizations so that local communities can support the local schools and
ensure their children go to school. We visited newly built and refurbished
schools in two communities, both of which reported still needing more space for
all the children who want to go to school. 
In one community we saw several brand new and refurbished
classrooms.  The community was very proud
of the school as they showed us the classroom which accommodates 104 first
graders – in one room!  The picture here
is of another village, near the town of Tiassalé, where the villagers asked us
to help them raise funds to complete a fourth classroom on their school; as the

No More Child Labor Chocolate! Can Hershey Be Trusted?

1. Established Certifiers: Is Hershey going to use established third party certifiers or vendor assurance programs, like Armajaro’s SourceTrust program, which do little to address the problems of farmer income, cocoa sustainability, and child labor? If Hershey is going to use established third party certifiers, which one(s) are they going to use?  

2. Clear Benchmarks: How much certified cocoa is Hershey currently sourcing? How much certified cocoa does Hershey plan to purchase every year to meet the 2020 goal? 
Dedicated In-house

The Mind of a Child is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Hershey agreed to meet with roughly 50 members of UMW on June 13th, one day after World Day Against Child Labor. UMW invited Green America and the International Labor Rights Forum to join the meeting, however, upon arrival, we were told the meeting with Hershey would be a closed meeting, open only to members of UMW. Hershey was likely scared we would ask them tough questions. For example, What is the actual reach and impact of the initiatives you have launched in Ghana in improving farmer livlihoods? Or, When will Hershey commit to sourcing indepentely certified child-labor-free cocoa for all of its products, as some of its competitors have pledged to do?

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