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Chocolate Giants Told to Address Child Labour

A group of investors representing US$8.8 trillion in assets is calling on the world’s six largest chocolate companies to end child labour in cocoa-growing regions in West Africa by paying farmers a living income. The letter – sent by activist group Investor Activists for Social Justice (IASJ) and addressed to Hershey, Mondelez, Mars, Nestle, Lindt, and Ferrero – was signed by nearly 70 mainly faith-based and specialist ethical investors, as well as non-profit pension funds. Around 60% of the world’s cocoa is currently grown in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, and the US government estimates 1.56 million children work as child labourers on cocoa farms there. The chocolate industry has pledged to tackle child labour, but the IASJ claims efforts have been largely ineffective, with farmers often still receiving less than the World Bank’s poverty threshold of US$2.15 per day. The letter called on the six chocolate companies to ensure all farmers received a living income – enough to cover the needs for their entire families – by 2025 to end the need for children to work. It also asked for the introduction of long-term contracts with gender equity policies, and regularly report on progress. “We’re calling on chocolate companies to use their purchasing power through price interventions to ensure cocoa farmers receive a living income,” said Aaron Acosta, Programme Director at the IASJ. “Because of their size and influence, chocolate companies are uniquely positioned to address systemic poverty [among] cocoa farmers.”

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