Child Labor in Chocolate Industry

The dark side of chocolate


Tons of chocolate eaten

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TheWorldCounts, 03 September, 2014

The dark side of chocolate

There’s a dark and sad side to Chocolate that few people know about. What can be dark about something that’s so delicious?

Child trafficking and slavery

The practice of child trafficking and slavery of children in the cocoa industry is very controversial. 

It is said that up to 200,000 children work in Côte d'Ivoire, the biggest cocoa producer in the world, who supplies 35% of global demands. The problem is most prevalent in West Africa’s Ivory Coast, which supplies 65% of the world’s cocoa.

It is said that an estimated 1.8 million children are currently working in cocoa plantations. Children, between 10 to 15 years old and often younger, are used as slaves to pay off their family’s debts and being forced to do hazardous work. Sometimes they are even stolen from their parents, never to see them again. They are under fed and beaten when they try to escape.

Is that chocolate still delicious?

Just think of the hundreds of thousands of children working 80 to 100 hours a week in cocoa farms doing hard labor, just so we can have the chocolates that we and our children love. Many big name chocolate brands are guilty of getting their cocoa from these sources… and when we buy these products, we are partly to blame too. This is a hard fact.

In 2001, The Harkin-Engel Protocol or the Cocoa Protocol was signed in response to numerous reports and documentaries about child slavery in the cocoa industry. It’s an international agreement signed by everyone involved in cocoa production, including 8 major chocolate companies and the Ambassador of Côte d'Ivoire. It was intended to end the worst forms of child labor.

Sadly, it seems that after 11 years and several commitment extensions, the problem of child labor and slavery in the cocoa industry still persists.

What you can do

You can do something to help these poor nameless and faceless children and still enjoy your chocolate treat. You can put an end to child slavery. You can choose to buy chocolates only from an ethical source. As a consumer, you can dictate where the market goes and which company or brand thrives. Buy only chocolates that are labeled Fair Trade and Child Labor-Free.

If you don’t buy chocolate from companies that get their cocoa from plantations that employ child labor, the chocolate companies will lose money and they will listen to your demands.

Demand that their products be child labor-free, through all the stages of production. Demand that big name brands such as Hershey’s (who earn billions of dollars in sales) get their cocoa from ethical sources. Otherwise, you won’t buy. It’s as simple as that.

For a list of green products and ethical companies, browse the FirmHugger site. Know the stories behind the products that you buy.


  1. Food Empowerment Project: Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry
  2. Wikipedia: Harkin-Engel Protocol
  3. Wikipedia: Children in Cocoa Production

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