World’s Largest Chocolate Companies Rated on Efforts to End Environmental and Labor Abuses


This article originally appeared in Business Wire, on April 7, 2020

WASHINGTON--()--Mighty Earth, Green America, and Be Slavery Free published a joint Easter scorecard, analyzing what the world’s biggest chocolate companies are doing to address social and environmental concerns. Godiva receives the “Rotten Egg Award” for its poor performance, and Tony’s Chocolonely receives the “Golden Egg Award” for its efforts to reshape the industry. The Easter scorecard has been published annually by Mighty Earth since 2018.

“Equipped with this scorecard, consumers can buy their Easter chocolates knowing whether their treats are likely tainted by deforestation and human rights abuses,” said Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director, Etelle Higonnet. “Consumers’ purchases highlight that we, at a time of global crisis, are all truly interconnected and that we are in this together.”

The groups surveyed 13 chocolate companies and 8 cocoa suppliers, examining their policies in six of the most pressing sustainability issues facing the chocolate industry: mandatory due diligence; transparency and traceability; deforestation and climate change; agroforestry; living income policies; and child labor, focusing primarily on child labor monitoring and remediation systems.

“Easter is the peak holiday for chocolate sales around the world, with a greater market share than Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Halloween. However, poorer countries where cocoa is grown may not have the financial muscle to ride the pandemic out. Communities already suffering from malnutrition and low cash flow will be hard hit,” said Fuzz Kitto, Co-National Director of Be Slavery Free in Australia. “It’s all the more reason for consumers to make a difference and buy chocolates from companies working to end environmental and labor abuses in the cocoa industry.”

Chocolate maker, Godiva, was given The Rotten Egg Award for failing to take responsibility for the conditions with which its chocolates are made, despite making huge profits off its chocolate. Godiva rated poorly across the board. In comparison to other chocolate brands, Godiva has made very little progress on social and environmental issues in the last few years.

Tony’s Chocolonely, which sources from the same supplier as Godiva, earned the Golden Egg Award. When comparing the two companies' efforts, the differences are stark. Tony’s is working to demonstrate that an ethical business model is possible in the chocolate industry and works to support its supplier to improve its operations. Tony’s performed well in every category across the scorecard.

“2020 is a big year in the chocolate sector, two decades since the world’s chocolate manufacturers signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol, an agreement to clean up the industry. Sadly, very little has changed,” said Charlotte Tate, Labor Justice Campaigns Manager at Green America. “Nonetheless, the industry is recognizing voluntary initiatives are not working and more companies are calling for government regulation. Businesses are recognizing that they cannot solve these issues alone and need greater government regulation.”

Roughly 2.1 million children work in cocoa, 96 percent of whom are found to be in hazardous labor according to researchers at Tulane University. In recent years, research from the World Resources Institute found that there has been an increase in deforestation in top cocoa producing countries, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Cocoa farmers often live in extreme poverty, despite chocolate companies raking in billions every year.

While progress is being made in the direct cocoa supply chains, there are still big concerns about the harmful impacts of companies' indirect supply chains on the environment, particularly deforestation, and people. There is little transparency about what is occurring in the indirect cocoa supply chains. These issues demonstrate an urgent need for increased efforts to transform the cocoa industry into a sustainable industry.

About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and North America to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights. Mighty Earth’s team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. www.mightyearth.org/.

About Green America

Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems. http://www.GreenAmerica.org

About Be Slavery Free

Be Slavery Free is a coalition of organisations with on the ground experience in preventing, disrupting and remediating modern slavery. Since 2007 they have been working with the chocolate industry, advocating for addressing child labour and slavery. https://beslaveryfree.com