The Dark Truth Behind a Sweet Snack

Jaden Viana, Writer

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Chocolate is a tasty snack that people all over the world enjoy. However, many consumers do not know what the cost of this great candy is. Within the chocolate-making industry, slavery, especially child-slavery, is dominant. In both Africa and Asia, children are working in terrible conditions to provide the products necessary for companies to make chocolate. 

The majority of consumers do not know where their chocolate is coming from. More than 70% of chocolate that is globally sold originates from cocoa farms in West Africa. On these farms, many children and adults are trapped in a cycle of slavery. Because the owners of these farms only make about two dollars a day, they see forced labour as the only solution to sell enough product to just meet the poverty line. Although the people being forced into slavery are the true victims, the cocoa farmers themselves seem to be helpless within the cycle of poverty. Without the use of forced labour, the cocoa farmers would have to produce ten times more chocolate alone just to reach the poverty line. Because these farmers are already quite poor, they do not have the money to pay these workers or equip them with safe tools. Instead they rely on dangerous machetes and pesticides to get the work done. One can suggest that the root of the problem is the international prices of chocolate and the companies themselves.

The lack of money and education to many children in these nations makes it easy for people to take advantage of child labor. Only 59% of boys and 55% of girls attend school in the region of Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa. Many families have no choice but to offer themselves or their children up for work. Only sometimes do these families get the money they are promised. Once someone is involved in the labour, it is anything but easy to get out of.

The enslaved people are unable to help themselves, and the chocolate companies are not bringing attention to the issue. The chocolate companies are the only people who can truly help, but they deny involvement and claim that there is not much they can do. This is why people must recognize the problem and push these industries to create fairer prices. While normal consumers are comfortable with the prices of chocolate, those prices are causing great harm to the people being forced to work on these farms. If the prices decreased, these companies could still thrive while allowing cocoa farmers to pay their workers and allow them to have a choice to leave. 

To stop this issue, companies like Hershey and Nestle must change the prices which greatly affect the cocoa farmers and ensure slave-free candy. Some protocols like the Harkin-Engel Protocol and Cocoa Industry Protocol have tried to fix the problem but failed because they focused only on eliminating slavery in a singular area. If a protocol were to fix the problem, it would have to focus on every region. That is a challenging prospect which is why it is up to the companies to lower the prices, and the consumers to encourage it. If more attention were brought to the issue of slavery in the chocolate industry, rule changes could halt this illegal act. Organizations like the Labor Rights Fund fight the issue, but it can only be truly prevented if the buyers and producers work towards change.

 

Sources:

“Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry.” Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry | Food Empowerment Project, www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate/.

The Situation.” Slave Free Chocolate, www.slavefreechocolate.org/children-slavery-cocoa/#.

“International Labor Rights Forum.” Cocoa | International Labor Rights Forum, 4 Dec. 2017, www.laborrights.org/industries/cocoa.

 

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