Most major chocolate companies have commitments to source more sustainable cocoa. Many of them have plans to have 100% certified cocoa in their supply chain by 2020. Although this is an important step in the right direction, certification programs alone are not enough to solve the underlying issues that contribute to child labor in cocoa, including farmer poverty and a lack of infrastructure.
Did you know that more than 2 million children in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire work in hazardous conditions growing cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, according to the US Department of Labor. While some companies have begun tracing their supply chains to prevent child labor, the vast majority of the 3 million tons of cocoa produced each year come from small farms in West Africa, where farmers and their children live on less than $1 per day.
This scorecard will help you find ethically sourced chocolate and understand what these labels mean. This is not a comprehensive list of every ethically sourced chocolate company however this scorecard features companies who are also Green Business Network members, as Green America has screened them for their practices. Chocolate bars with an “A” rating are organic and/or non-GMO certified.
*Green America is expanding their chocolate scorecard to go beyond commitments about certified chocolate but also looking to see if the companies have innovative programs and projects in place to address some of the other underlying issues of child labor in cocoa. Although companies may have certification programs that sound similar, they can vary in practice in regards to how comprehensive and impactful they are, and the final grade reflects that.
Such programs include:
Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems, which work with communities and families to address why child labor is happening on farms
Farmer income generating programs
Traceability mechanisms for fuller supply chain transparency
What does Fair Trade mean?
Fairtrade standards prohibit forced labor, child labor, and discrimination. If child labor is detected in a supply chain, Fairtrade immediately enacts its child protection policy and implements remediation efforts. Certified farmers’ organizations receive at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price for their cocoa beans and a Fairtrade Premium that they use to invest in their communities and business. To use the FAIRTRADE certification mark on a product, all ingredients that can be certified must come from Fairtrade sources.
What does Fair Trade Certified mean?
Fair Trade USA’s Fair Trade Certified standards prohibit forced labor, child labor, and discrimination, and protects freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. If child labor should surface, remediation guidelines are in place. Certified farmers are guaranteed a fair trade floor price for their cocoa beans as well as a social premium. Fair Trade Certified certifies farmer cooperatives as well as larger plantations. Only cocoa needs to be certified for the chocolate bar to receive the seal.
What does Fair For Life mean?
The IMO Fair for Life guarantees that smallholder farmers receive fair payment and that workers enjoy good and fair working conditions. The Fair for Life system prevents forced and child labor and also includes detailed environmental criteria. Fair For Life certified products must use Fair Trade ingredients if available, and regardless, 50% of all ingredients must be Fair Trade in order for a product to bear the seal.
What does Rainforest Alliance Certified mean?
RA standards prohibit the use of forced labor, child labor, and discrimination, and farmers have the right to oragnize. RA does not require buyers to pay a specific minimum floor price for cocoa beans. RA reasons that by producing higher quality and sustainable cocoa beans, farmers should be able to earn a higher price for their beans over time.
What does UTZ Certified mean?
UTZ certification prohibits forced labor, child labor, and discrimination and protects the right to organize and bargain collectively. In terms of pricing, UTZ states that premiums are paid to farmers for their certified products, but the price is solely based on negotiations between the buyers and farmers. Paying the legal minimum wage is required.
*Green America is a nonprofit membership organization based in the United States that promotes ethical consumerism, and is dedicated to harnessing the economic power of consumers, investors and businesses to promote social justice and environmental sustainability through helping responsible consumers and green businesses find each other in the marketplace. Businesses displaying the Green America Seal of Approval have successfully completed Green America’s screening process and have been approved to be listed as a socially and environmentally responsible — or green — businesses in their National Green Pages directory. The Green America Approved seal is given to applicant businesses that operate in ways that support workers, communities, and protect the environment.