Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Is the Cocoa Industry Afraid of Commitment?

Advocates for Ending Abusive Child Labor and Poverty in the Cocoa Fields Call on Chocolate Company Execs to Commit to Finally Resolving Thorny Issues this Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2008

Washington, DC —

In a Valentine’s Day turnaround this year, it was the CEO’s of major chocolate companies represented by the Chocolate Manufacturers Association (CMA) who received gifts: bouquets of fair trade certified flowers with a note attached calling on them to make a real commitment to ending child labor on cocoa farms in West Africa, from a group of organizations and chocolate companies who have already made the same commitment.

The following companies, more accustomed to selling Valentine’s Day gifts than receiving them, were surprised with bouquets of fair trade certified roses: Archer Daniels Midland, Barry Callebaut, Hershey, Mars, Blommers, Nestle, Cargill, World’s Finest Chocolate and Guittard Chocolate Company.  The note read, “At Valentines Day, we talk about commitment.  Chocolate manufacturers it's time to make a REAL commitment TODAY to 1) END abusive child labor & 2) SIGN Commitment to Ethical Cocoa Sourcing -Commitment Signatories.”  The “Commitment to Ethical Cocoa Sourcing” is a joint statement signed by almost 60 organizations and chocolate companies outlining steps they agree to take to eliminate harmful labor conditions from their cocoa supply chains.  The document is available online at:

Since the story of child labor, including trafficked and forced labor, on cocoa farms in West Africa broke in 2001, the major chocolate companies represented by the Chocolate Manufacturers Association have not taken appropriate action to stop labor abuses in their supply chains.  Most recently, the major chocolate companies have distorted the definition of “certification” which they are required to implement in 50% of their cocoa supply chain by July 2008 under the Harkin-Engel Protocol.

The signatories of the “Commitment to Ethical Cocoa Sourcing” support an alternative approach which includes: providing transparency in cocoa supply chains to the farm level; sourcing from farms and cooperatives which respect core ILO labor standards and pay a price adequate for farmers to meet these standards; paying farmers a fair and adequate price for the cocoa purchased; implement or maintain structural practices to ensure farmers a consistently better price; supporting the drafting and enforcement of laws to stop child labor; and supporting social programs for children.  Signatories include chocolate companies pioneering the way to ethical chocolate through Fair Trade, such as Equal Exchange and Sweet Earth, and advocacy organizations including International Labor Rights Forum, Global Exchange, Co-op America, and Oasis.

Consumers are encouraged to purchase chocolate from companies which have embraced the “Commitment to Ethical Cocoa Sourcing” this Valentine’s Day.


Co-op America is a non-profit membership organization founded in 1982 with the mission to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—and to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. 

Yochi Zakai
Fair Trade and Climate Change Programs Coordinator

or Tim Newman, or 202-347-4100 x113

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