Tag Archives: corporate social responsibility

From Cadbury to Nestlé: Big Chocolate & Forced Labor

While chocolate is a sweet delicacy enjoyed by millions around the world, the underlying forces of cacao production often leave a sour taste in consumers’ mouths. After Europeans “discovered” chocolate in Mesoamerica, its dissemination in Europe relied on the forced labor of indigenous populations and later African slaves on cacao plantations. Slavery was abolished on paper in England in 1833. Yet, it persisted under new names from serviçal in Sao Tome e Principe to “worst forms of child labor” in Côte d’Ivoire. I will compare the response of two influential companies in the cocoa industry–Cadbury and Nestlé–when faced with evidence of forced labor  in their cacao supply chain. While both companies’ actions are ultimately profit-driven, Cadbury took more legitimate actions to divest from forced labor than Nestlé, as the latter has yet to fully invest in ethically-sourced cacao.


William Cadbury’s awareness of forced labor in cacao plantations started with rumors of horrible work conditions in Sao Tome and Príncipe in 1901. At the time, Cadbury obtained 55% of its cacao from the area (Higgs 2012:9). He met with Portuguese authorities who assured him that new labour legislation addressed concerns of minimum wage (Satre 2005:23). Still, Cadbury commissioned Joseph Burtt in 1905 to investigate the work conditions in Sao Tome e Principe. Prior to Burtt’s return, Henry Nevinson published his investigative journalism in Harper’s Magazine in 1905.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 07.27.43
Cadbury's_Cocoa_advert_with_rower_1885Nevinson shed light on the forced labor of indentured servants (serviçal) in Sao Tome e Principe (Martin 2017). It was indistinguishable from slavery. Burtt returns in 1907, and his report supports Nevinson’s research. Yet, British authorities request Burtt revise his findings to assuage Portuguese authorities because Portuguese authorities were instrumental to British colonial interests in South Africa (Satre 2005: 76, 24). Up to then, Cadbury’s actions were behind the public eye. While the company researched forced labor and attempted to negotiate with both British and Portuguese authorities with no divestment in sight, their consumers continued purchasing their “guaranteed pure and soluble” cacao. 

Nevinson persevered with his reporting and published “The Angola Slave Trade” in The Fornightly Review, which garnered a lot of publicity. Forced labor alarmed British consumers because although England had abolished slavery in 1833, they were still complicit to it. Slavery did not align itself with the Quaker values of the time. As consumers started demanding Cadbury take action, Cadbury takes a final trip to Sao Tome and Principe.

Upon his return, he convinces J.S. Fry and Rowntree, other British chocolatemakers to join him as Cadbury boycotts cacao production in Sao Tome and Principe. Presumably, Cadbury divests because of the continuous failed promises by the Portuguese government to ameliorate working conditions in both islands. While the Portuguese government was not intent on ending slavery in cacao production, Cadbury did not suddenly reach enlightenment in 1909. At the time of initial evidence of slavery in Sao Tome and Principe, Cadbury had no other sustainable source of cacao if it wanted to maintain its leading status amongst British consumers. A viable option was needed as the British confectionners turned to mainland West Africa. Hence, the boycott from its main source of cacao did not hurt Cadbury because during his backdoor negotiations with various stakeholders, cacao trees were being planted in the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana). From his visit to the Gold Coast in 1906 to the official boycott from Sao Tome’s cacao in 1909, cocoa harvest in the Gold Coast increased from 9004 to 20,534 metric tons (Grant 2005: 175). Therefore, in addition to being ethically sound, the move to the Gold Coast in 1909 was also business-proof.


A century later, big chocolate makers are still guilty of profiting from the fruits of forced labor in their supply chain. In 1998, A Taste of Slavery: How Your Chocolate May be Tainted was published. The UNICEF  report was one of the first to highlight evidence of child labor in West Africa, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire. Young people were often worked almost under horrible conditions: “the [Malian] boys had little to eat, slept in bunk-houses that were locked at night, and were frequently beaten. They had horrible sores on their backs and shoulders, some as a result of carrying the heavy bags of cocoa, but some likely the effects of physical abuse” (Off 2008: 121). Child labor in cacao farms in Côte d’Ivoire involves familial and contracted labor, often including human trafficking of children from neighboring countries like Mali and Burkina Faso. Such labor conditions violate the International Labor Organization (ILO) Minimum Age Convention and the ILO Forced Labour Convention (Schrage and Ewing 2005: 101-102).

Increasing media attention to such reports of child slavery pushed the cocoa industry to stop dawdling and take action because “the mistreatment of children posed a clear threat to corporate reputation and sales” (Schrage and Ewing 2005: 104). As the United States Congress began the legislative process of banning Ivorian cacao, the industry proposed a protocol to address the reports. In September 2001, the Chocolate Manufacters Association (CMA) and the World Cocoa Foundation signed the Protocol for the Growing and Processing of Cocoa Beans and their Derivative Products in a Manner that Complies with ILO Convention 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Chila Labor also known as the Harkin-Engel Protocol. Ever since its inception, the protocol has continuously been extended as chocolate companies fail to eradicate the worst form of child labor from their supply chain by their own deadlines. Many have critiqued the protocol as too lenient because a voluntary plan does not ensure the industry will be accountable.

Nestlé has undertook actions to adhere to the Harkin-Engel Protocol. The company joined the Global Issues Group (GIG), “an ad-hoc, pre-competitive association of cocoa industry participants formed in response to the agreements as spelled out in the Harkin-Engil Protocol” (Tulane research). Furthermore, Nestlé contracted UTZ Certified, a product certification organization, to be held accountable for its cacao consumption. Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 16.27.24In 2009, Nestlé established the Cocoa Plan. The hyperlinked video highlights the work of the Cocoa Plan in Côte d’Ivoire. Through the International Cocoa Initiative, the Cocoa Plan has built schools throughout Côte d’Ivoire in order to provide alternatives for children who were previously child laborers or could potentially be involved in cacao production.This iniative, among others, empowers local communities and seeks to reduce the prevalence of the “worst forms of child labor” in cacao production.In addition, Nestlé has supported further investigation into their cacao sourcing. The Fair Labor Association (FLA) conducted a thorough investigation of the company’s cacao supply chain, making it the first chocolate-maker to undertake such a process (CNN 2012). The FLA has continued these investigations, which attest to Nestlé’s investment in an ethical supply chain. Nestlé’s actions were in response to growing criticism. The company had to handle lawsuits and respond to documentaries about the persistence of forced labor in Côte d’Ivoire in order to appease its consumer base, who was demanding more accountability in the cacao supply chain.


Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 16.28.53Consumer demand for and consumption of ethically produced chocolate is highest in the United Kingdom. This trend explains why Kit Kat chocolate bars in the UK bear the Faitrade mark and Kit Kat chocolate bars in Germany do not. While both bars have the Cocoa Plan logo, Nestlé reveals that it only purchases 14.5% of its cocoa through the Plan, of which 75% is either UTZ or Fairtrade-certified (Nestle 2013: 160). While Nestlé has taken steps to ethically source its cacao, this has only been for consumers who actively demand it.

Similar to Cadbury, Nestlé is acting in a profit-maximizing way. Ethics are secondary because the investment in the Cocoa Plan for all of its chocolate would not be be as profitable beyond the UK. Unlike Cadbury, Nestlé has unfortunately not significantly addressed the Protocol because shared responsibility with other big chocolatemakers and lack of significant consumer demand diffuse the pressure to immediately conform.


Cadbury’s Advert with Rower 1885. 2010. Wikimedia Commons

CNN,. 2012. “Nestleé Advances Child Labor Battle Plan”. Retrieved March 23, 2017 (http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/29/nestle-advances-child-labor-battle-plan/).

Grant, Kevin. A Civilised Savagery: Britain and the New Slaveries in Africa, 1884-1926.  London: Routledge, 2005.

Higgs, Catherine. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery and Colonial Africa Athens: Ohio University Press, 2012.

Martin, Carla. “Slavery, Abolition, and Forced Labor.” Lecture, Chocolate Lecture, Cambridge, March 01, 2017.

Nestlé,. 2013. Nestlé In Society: Creating Shared Value And Meeting Our Commitments 2013. Nestlé. Retrieved March 21, 2017 (http://storage.nestle.com/Interactive_CSV_Full_2013/files/assets/common/downloads/Creating%20Shared%20Value%20Full%20Report%202013.pdf).

Nevinson, Henry Woodd. “The Slave-Trade of to-Day. Conclusion–the Islands of Doom.” Harper’s Monthly, 1906, 327-37.

Off, Carol. 2008. Bitter Chocolate. 1st ed. New York [u.a.]: The New Press.

Satre, Lowell J. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business.  Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005.

Schrage, Elliot, and Anthony Ewing. 2005. The Cocoa Industry And Child Labour. Journal of Corporate Citizenship. Retrieved March 22, 2017 (http://www.justice.gov.il/Units/Trafficking/MainDocs/The_Cocoa_Industry_and_child_labour.pdf).

Corporate Social Responsibility: The World of Chocolate

Corporate social responsibility means that companies integrate social and environmental issues into their business operations and in their communication with their stockholders. The JustChocolate chocolate company, unlike every existing chocolate manufacturer in the world will show corporate social responsibility to employees, consumers, stockholders, the country, the environment, and the world.

One aspect of corporate social responsibility is the chocolate manufacturer’s responsibility to it’s employees. One problem with traditional chocolate manufacturers and its corporate social responsibility to its employees is slavery.

Slavery has been a big problem in the chocolate industry for years, and is a rapidly growing problem even today. One of the reasons slavery is such a big problem in the chocolate industry is because of poverty among chocolate manufacturers. Most chocolate manufacturers are located in the Third World, in poverty stricken areas such as Cote D’ivoire. Poverty among the cacao growers leads to fewer workers, as there is not money to pay the workers’ salaries. But the workers are desperately needed, therefore leading to the enslavement of both children and adults.

childlabor image 1Taken from flickr.com (5*)

Child laborers are a good work source for poverty stricken cacao farms, because they have many benefits that adult slaves do not. One of these benefits is that the children are small, so they can fit into small spaces, and have an easy time climbing trees in order to get the cacao pods off of the higher branches. Another reason child laborers are used is because they are easier to fool into slavery than adults, and also because they cost less to feed and care for.

Many think the solution to child labor and modern day slavery is to stop buying from these farms, but this will only worsen the problem, and create an even bigger poverty stricken area. The reason these poverty stricken cacao farms are enslaving children and adults in the first place is due to poverty, and not buying from them will lower their income (which is already well below the poverty line) even more, necessitating more slavery.

The JustChocolate chocolate company puts an end to slavery in our chocolate by only buying and supporting slave free farms, and when the other farms see that they will only gain our support if they let go of their slaves, they will begin to stop using slaves, and instead rely on our money.


Another aspect of corporate social responsibility is the responsibility to the consumers. One problem with traditional chocolate manufacturers by way of their consumers is diet and health.

Although a little bit of chocolate is thought to be healthy for you, (2* “Epidemiological studies indicate that cocoa has a cardioprotective effect by improving endothelial function and decreasing platelet aggregation and blood pressure.” – Watson et al) the over-consumption of chocolate is a leading factor in obesity rates today. This is partially due to sugar being one of the main ingredients in the chocolate we eat today, but is also due to the large amounts of both sugar and chocolate the average American consumes today. The average American eats over 152 pounds of sugar a year (3*), and around 12 pounds of chocolate annually, which is .  (4* in 2012, the average American ate 12 pounds of chocolate)

5pound chocolate image 2(6*)


Another problem that accompanies chocolate consumption is allergies. Four percent of adults, and 8% of children in the U.S have a food allergy, (1*) and some of the most common of these food allergies are ingredients used in chocolate, such as milk, peanuts and tree-nuts. Even non-allergenic chocolate sometimes has common allergens, mostly due to unhygienic chocolate manufacturing practices.

Hygiene is a common unsolved problem in chocolate manufacturing, mostly because the chocolate manufacturing countries are located in the third world. Cacao beans are often mixed in with foreign objects, such as metals. The process of cacao manufacturing is also often unsterile and unhygienic. The pods are harvested from the cacao trees, and then split open to reveal the cacao beans, covered in a sticky white pulp; these beans are then fermented and dried, and later sent to our company in large sacks. At our company, the beans are sorted by hand, while at traditional chocolate companies, the beans are sorted by machines, which are not always so accurate. Our chocolate company picks out the best beans, and then roasts them and de-shells them. These beans are then ground in our grinders, which like the rest of our machinery, is cleaned and sterilized after every use. After being ground, the beans are pressed in a hydraulic press, which then creates a press cake; and finally, the ground beans are conched.

The JustChocolate company has separate facilities, one for regular chocolates, one for tree nut-free chocolate, one for peanut-free chocolate, and one for milk-free chocolate. This helps ensure that no allergens get mixed into the chocolate, but at the same time lets people around the world enjoy a tasty, treat, either allergen free or not.

Our chocolate company also sorts the beans by hand, and only gets the cacao beans from slave-free farmers who follow their hygiene rules. These farms have regular checkups to ensure that they are complying with the hygiene terms.

To ensure the health of our consumers, our chocolate company sells small individual chocolates of different kinds for more money. This gives our consumers the treat they deserve, without the obesity and other health issues.

chocolatebox image 3The small chocolate boxes JustChocolate will use


Another part of corporate social responsibility is the responsibility to the stockholders. One problem with traditional chocolate manufacturers by way of their stockholders is ethicalness.

When stockholders buy a chocolate company’s stock, they plan to own a part of a chocolate company, not a slave company, but instead they are supporting slavery. Chocolate manufacturers are lying to their stockholders, and further promoting the slave industry. However, more importantly the stockholders company could be getting their ingredients from undemocratic countries.

Our chocolate manufacturing company gives its stockholders all the information they want, and even brings our stockholders on a tour of where they get their cacao beans. Our chocolate company ensures that no slavery has happened along the manufacturing line of our chocolate, and only receives cacao beans from democratic countries, and from countries that treat women and children properly.


Another aspect of corporate social responsibility is the responsibility to the U.S. One problem with traditional chocolate manufacturers by way of their country is bad health, bad PR, and setting a bad example/precedent.

Obesity rates are high and on the rise, and the cost of obesity and other health issues stemming from chocolate over consumption are rapidly growing. The money spent on health issues surrounding food is money not spent on solving other urgent national issues.

Besides affecting the country’s  health and insurance costs, buying chocolate from enslaved farms is also draining the countries good PR, and the country needs to set a good precedent. If the country is buying chocolate from child labor and slavery farms, then the country is supporting slavery.

Our chocolate company only makes chocolate from slave-free cacao farms, therefore setting a good example for the rest of the world. Our chocolate company does its best to keep obesity rates low, and therefore have less of a problem with health and insurance cost by selling small fancy chocolates for larger amounts of money, encouraging consumers to give themselves one treat that is perfect, rather than wasting the same amount of money on many more treats that are not as good, and fattening.


Yet another aspect of corporate social responsibility is the responsibility of the company to the environment. One problem with traditional chocolate manufacturers is pollution.

Traditional chocolate manufacturers use high energy/electricity machinery which is harmful to the environment. Some of these include the hydraulic press, the conche, the temper, and the mixer, among others.

Although it seems like traditional chocolate manufacturers are all bad, there is one thing about them that is good, and that is that it is beneficial to the cacao trees to have other trees, such as banana and avocado grow next to them. This ultimately helps both the environment and the natives in those countries.

Our chocolate company would provide the same benefits, but without the disadvantages that accompany traditional chocolate manufacturers.  Instead of using high energy machinery to produce our chocolate, we will use windmills, watermills, and solar panels to power our machinery. Our company takes nature, and turns it into a treat we will all enjoy, without ruining the world.




The JustChocolate company, unlike every existing chocolate manufacturer in the world will show corporate social responsibility to employees, consumers, stockholders, the country, the environment, and the world.  JustChocolate chocolate company does this by only using cacao from slave-free farms, therefore not promoting the slavery industry freely promoted by traditional chocolate manufacturers. Our chocolate company ensures that the consumers get the healthiest chocolate, and even provides separate facilities to ensure that no unknown allergens get inside our chocolate, and we only get our cacao beans from farms that follow our protocols. We’re responsible to our stockholders by ensuring that our company only gets its cacao beans from slave-free farms only located in democratic countries that treat women and children properly. Our chocolate company is responsible to the U.S because we set a good precedent by only buying and supporting slave-free farms, and farms that follow our hygiene protocol. And finally, JustChocolate chocolate company shows corporate social responsibility to the environment and the world by using natural resources, such as windmills, watermills, and solar panels to power our machinery, therefore not polluting, but at the same time producing a luxurious treat.




Sources cited:

  1. p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.foodallergy.org%2Fdocument.doc%3Fid%3D194>
  2. “2015.04.15 AAAS E119 Lecture 11: Health, Nutrition, and the Politics of Food.” N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.
  3. “2015.02.25 AAAS E119 Lecture 5: Popular Sweet Tooths and Scandal.” N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.
  4. “Interactive Map: Top 20 Chocolate Consuming Nations of 2012.” N.p., 30 July 2013. Web. 11 May 2015.
  5. Child labor in Africa. Digital image. N.p., 4 June 2007. Web. 11 May 2015.
  6. Giant Hershey’s Chocolate Bar [5-Pound]. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.
  7. p., 18 June 2012. Web. 12 May 2015. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BANGUI_WINDMILL,ILOCOS_NORTE_2.jpg&gt;.