Enjoy Your Easter Chocolate—But Think Who Harvested the Cocoa

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Only the kids’ crisp pastel outfits can crown the candy rainbow this time of year, with chocolate featured prominently in nearly every Easter basket.

But young people at the very beginning of chocolate’s journey through the global supply chain also deserve attention. In the parts of the world that transport the beans that are eventually sweetened into the packaged chocolate we all know, the harvest crews are very young.

This is an issue that few consumers spend much time thinking about when shopping for Easter candy. Few people even think that chocolate should be grown, at all. Cocoa and cocoa beans reach world markets. “Cocoa” refers to beans that have not been roasted. And what we call “cocoa” is made from beans that have been roasted. CC00 cocoa futures,
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take their place on the commodity exchange just like coffee, corn, soybeans and timber.

When it comes to labor issues, the good news is that even the big global chocolate interests – some of the manufacturers and distributors behind much of the packaged food we eat, who still have their eye on the bottom line net – are trying to address this inequity.

Cocoa farmers are subject to large fluctuations in market prices and earn less than the national income in countries where this crop is predominant. This may mean that young children work to provide income for their family.

Barclays

“While the subject of child labor remains a complex part of the cocoa supply chain, a widely accepted approach by all chocolate stakeholders is that income diversification is essential to protect farmers from the vagaries of cocoa prices. “, a research team from Barclays, led by Warren Ackerman. said in a report.

“The harsh reality is that small cocoa farmers often simply cannot afford to hire professional and legal employees of working age, so they revert to child labor,” they said.

Around 70% of the world’s cocoa beans come from four West African countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana alone account for more than 50% of world cocoa.

An estimated 1.5 million miners in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana involved in child labor are linked to the structural problems faced by cocoa-growing communities: poverty, exclusion and lack of access to health care and to drinking water.

“The harsh reality is that small cocoa farmers often simply cannot afford to hire professional and legal employees of working age, so they revert to child labor.”


— Barclays European Consumer Staples Research Team

Palm oil, used for cooking and as an additive, is another controversial industry, largely because its use around the world is prolific and because the stands of trees used for its production are not as protected. as the climate groups would like.

Related: Cookies and wet markets: Here’s where the coronavirus and climate change collide

Barclays researchers, examining child labor and other factors, noted the top chocolate and confectionery companies.

Barclays

The UK-based Barclays team focused much of their research on European chocolate habits. They highlighted a few practices that could set the tone for the whole industry. Nestlé, for its part, has made drastic improvements in recent years, focusing on a revenue acceleration program, Barclays said.

Barry Callebaut received high marks because its sustainability disclosure on the subject provides solid detail and levels of transparency. Lindt & Sprüngli’s disclosure has improved, and although incidents of child labor appear to be low, the Barclays team said they believe the level of data and transparency could be improved.

“The extreme poverty that surrounds these children means that many of them start working at an early age to support their families. Some children are even sold to farmers, often unaware of the dangerous working conditions and faced with the lack of any provision for worker education,” the Barclays team said. “This despite decades of work on the issue, and progress has been slow. We think there needs to be more urgency, so it was encouraging to see the revolutionary announcement by Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider [on income programs].”

Global chocolate consumption has increased by around 2% on a compound annual growth rate since 2007.

Although it scored low by Barclay’s calculations, Kellogg Co. K,
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on the one hand, has this to say in his defense, in a statement on its website“One of the ways we manage human rights concerns is to work closely with our suppliers to ensure their operations and supply chains are aligned with our values. And we hold them accountable to their commitments through screenings, ratings, third-party site audits, and providing direct feedback. »

What is also true is that concerns about child labor issues have arisen from environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments. ESG extendsalthough a small slice of the broader SPX stock market remains,
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and in the area of ​​mutual funds.

Lily: SEC’s Gensler: Making ESG equity fund labels as clear as fat-free vs. whole milk

Easter – and Passover, which begins on April 15 this year – are of course religious holidays, so being mindful of the health and safety of children everywhere seems appropriate. And no doubt, we love our chocolate.

Global chocolate consumption has increased by around 2% on a compound annual growth rate since 2007, but increased during the pandemic as more people worked from home, Barclays said.

A recent survey revealed that in the United States, Mondelez International’s MDLZ,
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Cadbury Creme Eggs — the chocolate eggs filled with a yellow and white fondant-like filling that looks like a real egg yolk — have been dubbed the most popular Easter candy in nearly half of the states. Some 100 million Cadbury Creme eggs are sold here every year.

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