A study evaluating industry action on tackling human trafficking and child labour in the Ivory Coast and has been welcomed by the Australian chocolate manufacturing sector.
The Stop The Traffik Australian Coalition and Baptists World Aid Australia report, titled A Matter of Taste, has highlighted the extent of conditions for many working in West Africa, including within the cocoa growing business.
It comes as leading confectionery businesses such as Mars, Hershey, Lindt and Ferrero have committed to 100% cocoa bean certification by 2020.
"While progress has been made in combatting human trafficking and child labour in the Ivory Coast and Ghanaian cocoa growing communities, the Australian and global chocolate manufacturing industry share the view that more is needed to improve the living conditions in these communities," said Tim Piper, Head of the Ai Group Confectionery Sector.
“The Report acknowledges that the change needed is a shared responsibility. It reflects the work being done by NGOs and industry to improve work standards and ensure a global cocoa supply.
"Improving the sustainability and wellbeing of the cocoa growers, their families and communities and their livelihoods for the long-term, is industry’s goal. Of course, there is more to be done,” added Mr Piper.
The Stop The Traffik report comes in the wake of International Labour Organisation studies that have shown that in 2013, an estimated 1.42 million children were working in the Ivory Coast, with around 38% (539,000) minors said to be employed in hazardous conditions.
Mr Piper believed that industry was now placing ongoing investment that would make a difference to communities in key cocoa growing regions.
He added: “Australian (and global) major chocolate manufacturers are all committed to full sustainably sourced cocoa for their local and global production, albeit with varying timelines. This progress towards full sustainability is positive news.
“To achieve this long-term sustainability objective, industry is playing a major role in collaboration with governments, NGOs, cocoa farming communities and other partners in the supply chain – beyond basic certification. The Australian and global chocolate industry is investing in local community development both socially and economically, in cocoa farming and agricultural practices to improve productivity and yields, child protection, access to education and training and labour monitoring and remediation systems.
“There is no denying this is a complex issue; however, with each year, collectively, significant progress is being achieved. This progress is making a real difference on-the-ground, which flows through to the chocolate products consumers enjoy. The value of the collective effort is paramount, as is the time needed to effect change.”
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