[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It was my sons 5th birthday the other week and he wanted a castle birthday cake with a chocolate door. Of course I left it to the last minute, and although I drizzled my organic raw vegan chocolate on other parts of his cake, I ended up buying a fair trade Kit Kat bar, and used it as the castle door…..

And it got me thinking about chocolate, and hoping like hell a child wasn’t harmed while I make this cake for my son.

The thing is, there’s not a lot of transparency around the sources of cacao beans for most of our favourite chocolate brands, and its hard to know if the chocolate you are buying is in fact supporting child slave labour.

Child slave labour

Child slave labour is commonplace in developing countries like Ghana and the Ivory Coast, in West Africa, which supplies approx 2/3 of the worlds cocoa for making chocolate products. Many of these children are trafficked from neighbouring countries and forced to work extreme hours in unsafe and hostile conditions, with barely enough payment to survive. These children live in poverty, some barely eat, physically struggle and suffer pain, all so we, in our privileged worlds, can have our ‘chocolate treats’, while the big companies revel in profit.

In 2001, the Global Cocoa Industry acknowledged the ethical need to eliminate child labour. As a result, fair trade, sustainable farming and rainforest alliance certifications were created, but there is still little transparency between many of the big companies, and still so much more change needed to eradicate this violation of human rights.

The big companies like Hersheys, Mars and Nestle, promised to eliminate child labour in West Africa by 2005, but still today in 2019, will not guarantee their products are free of child slave labour.

Mondelez International, the worlds largest snack company that recently replaced Kraft, and is parent of Cadbury, didn’t sign the global cocoa industry agreement, however they have made commitments to sustainability goals and to reduce slave trade by 2020, through their Cocoa scheme, Cocoa Life. Brands under this scheme include Cadburys, Cote D’or, Green and Blacks, and Milka, however it seems the commitment to this scheme varies from country to country, and although Cadburys created the first fair trade certified dairy milk chocolate for the UK, Australia, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand, the US lags behind and there is still a long way to go before full slave trade is eliminated.

Lindt have also pledged to take action towards certified and sustainable sources of cocoa, and have created their own independent program, with fair trade and ethical values, so they may know exactly where their beans have come from.

And what about that Kit Kat? Well apparently the fair trade Kit Kat has been created under Nestles attempt to do something to commit to sourcing ethical cacao, but again any company sourcing the majority of their cacao beans from West Africa for most of their products, is still supporting slave labour.

There are now child labour monitoring systems that have been set up in the the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which is raising awareness and reporting findings, with the aim of getting the children out of the fields and into schools.

Here are some findings from Nestles 2016 report on the Ivory Coast.

Whilst is sounds promising that these big companies have participated in programs, according to the 2018 Cocoa Barometer Report “Not a single company or government is anywhere near reaching the sectorwide objective of the elimination of child labour, and not even near their commitments of a 70% reduction of child labour by 2020”.


Fair trade Organisations have been created all over the world with the intention to offer farmers a higher, more fair wage for work, so that they can employ adults and the children can attend school instead of work, however there is still controversy around the integrity of these labels and even those big companies using ‘Fair Trade’ certifications cannot guarantee there has been no slave labour. The food empowerment project highlights one study in 2011, by a Danish journalist, who investigated farms in Western Africa where major chocolate companies buy cocoa. He filmed illegal child labor on these farms, including those certified by UTZ and Rainforest Alliance. Despite the Chocolate industry’s claims and attempts to invest in fair trade, child labor still plagues cocoa farms in Western Africa.

We as consumers are the ones who can make a difference, when the big companies aren’t doing enough, by making ethical purchases, and refusing to support the chocolates that cause harm.

Here are two lists of ethical brands and more ethical brands who to avoid.

Or get your hands on some of my elixir and make your own chocolates with this soul-full recipe

MY Mission

It is my promise and mission, as creator of Cacao Medium, that I will do every thing in my conscious power to ensure no child will ever suffer as a result of my cacao business. My business is an opportunity to increase the demand for ethical cacao, and a ‘medium’ for us to make choices that are more aligned with supporting our children, our humanity and our earth.

Cacao Medium’s ingredients are part of a co-operative with the community of Tarapoto, northern Peru. Cacao is grown using environmentally sustainable practices, and the community are supported through a social responsibility program that has created schools and education for the children, as well as better working conditions for the farmers, including the donation of tools and workshops on sustainable agriculture techniques.

Cacao Medium will also donate $1 from the sale of every cacao elixir to the Borderless Friendship Foundation that helps to provide health, housing and education to the Hill tribe children of Thailand at risk of trafficking and the sex trade.

I believe children have the right to innocence, the right to play, to right to basic human necessities like food, clean water, health care and education, and my conscience literally will not let me run a business that robs children of this.

Next time you go to buy chocolate, please please ask yourself where it came from.

Below you can read more on the cocoa slave trade


Fact sheet

Nestle, Mars, Hersheys

Real Cost of a chocolate bar



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