Cocoa

Countries Where Cocoa is Reportedly Produced with Forced Labor and/or Child Labor

Cocoa Commodity Risk Map
  • Brazil (CL)

  • Cameroon (CL, FL)

  • Côte d’Ivoire (CL, FL)

  • Ghana (CL, FL)

  • Guinea (CL)

  • Nigeria (CL, FL)

  • Congo, Republic of the (FL)

  • Sierra Leone (CL)

  • Togo (FL)

Where is cocoa reportedly produced with trafficking and/or child labor?

According to the U.S. Department of State 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, cocoa is listed as being produced with forced labor or forced child labor in Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire (CDI), Ghana, and Togo.[i]

According to the U.S. Department of Labor List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor, cocoa is produced with child and forced labor in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria and with child labor in Brazil, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.[ii]

The U.S. Department of State 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report lists Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana as Tier 2. Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo are listed as Tier 2 Watch List countries. Republic of Congo is listed as a Tier 3 country.[iii]

[i] U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. 2018. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/282798.pdf

[ii] U.S. Department of Labor. 2018  List of Goods Produced by Child Labor of Forced Labor. https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ilab/ListofGoods.pdf

[iii] U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. 2018. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/282798.pdf

What does trafficking and/or child labor look like in the production of cocoa?

A study published by the Walk Free Foundation in 2018 found that approximately 14,000 children were forced to work by someone other than their parents and that approximately 3,700 adults were forced to work in the cocoa sector in Ghana between 2013 and 2017.[i] In Cote d’Ivoire, the same study found that approximately 10,000 adults were forced to work in the cocoa sector and that approximately 2,000 children were forced to work by someone other than a parent.

Prospective cocoa workers may experience deceptive recruitment[ii] and may incur debt related to their recruitment and transportation which can prevent them from leaving their jobs. Compounding recruitment-related debt, migrant workers may have deductions taken from their already low wages to cover items like food and medical care. In order to pay off this debt, some workers may have to continue working beyond the time frame originally agreed upon in order to access their earnings.[iii]  Verité research on forced labor indicators among cocoa workers in CDI  found that domestic and transnational migrant workers who have recruitment-related debt and who are in their first years of employment in the cocoa sector likely have the highest vulnerability to these forced labor indicators.[iv]

Cocoa production may take place in remote areas where workers are isolated and there is a lack of social infrastructure; this can result in the absence of formal education systems for migrant children and absence of systems for workers to address concerns.[v] There have been reports of young migrant workers in CDI living and working in such settings where they have to fend for themselves in terms of medical care and food.[vi] In CDI, cocoa production often occurs in protected forest areas that may be geographically isolated. In addition to contributing to severe deforestation in CDI, the illicit nature of this cocoa farming, which often occurs outside of traceability, community-based, and cooperative-based systems and beyond the reach of law enforcement, can exacerbate the vulnerability of workers, especially migrant workers, employed in these areas.[vii]

The high input costs related to cocoa farming, including tools, protective clothing/boots, hired labor/sharecropping (if applicable), local transportation, cooperative membership (if applicable), pesticides, and seedlings[viii] as well as low profits from selling cocoa can result in overall low incomes for cocoa primary producers and sharecroppers. The final report from The Global Business of Forced Labour Project, a research project that focused on tea and cocoa supply chains of markets in the UK, found that patterns of exploitation, including forced labor, exist at the bottom of cocoa supply chains.[ix] The report notes that 23 percent of cocoa workers interviewed in Ghana performed work for which they were not paid and that 60 percent of cocoa workers interviewed had gone into debt.[x] The report also found that cocoa workers in Ghana earn far less than the Ghanaian living wage reporting 5 GHS compared to the 47 GHS living wage.[xi] This finding is echoed in CDI where, according to a 2018 study, 71 percent of cocoa workers in CDI make below a living wage,[xii] and many cocoa farmers live on less than one dollar a day.[xiii] Having less cash on hand can drive producers and sharecroppers, who either own or have access to land and are in a position to engage hired workers, to use family labor rather than employ workers or offer very low rates thereby negatively impacting workers well-being. Using family labor, especially when adequate educational opportunities are not available, can increase the risk of child labor.[xiv]

Children are often involved in cocoa production in a variety of ways, primarily through work within family structures.[xv] Children migrating voluntarily, to join an extended family or community member or to work for an employer, may be motivated by the desire to earn an independent income to support themselves or their families, to seek schooling, or to build social capital or life experience.[xvi] If children live and work away from their parents, however, they are considered to be at heightened risk for labor rights violations.[xvii] Children working in cocoa can be exposed to pesticides and are often injured by machetes used in harvesting.[xviii] They are also vulnerable to musculoskeletal disorders, eye injuries, skin rashes, and coughing. They often lack access to protective equipment.[xix] As of 2018, an estimated total of 2.1 million children worked in the cocoa sectors in CDI and Ghana.[xx] A 2015 study conducted by Tulane University estimated that there were approximately 2.12 million children working in the cocoa sector in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana during the 2013-2014 cocoa harvest season.[xxi]

[i] “Cocoa.” The Global Slavery Index. 2018. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/importing-risk/cocoa/

[ii] Verité. “Assessment of Forced Labor Risk in the Cocoa Sector of Cote d’Ivoire.” February 2019.  https://www.verite.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Verite-Report-Forced-Labor-in-Cocoa-in-CDI.pdf

Robson, Paul. Anti-Slavery International. Ending Child Trafficking in West Africa Lessons from the Ivorian cocoa sector. 2011. http://www.antislavery.org/includes/documents/cm_docs/2011/c/cocoa_report_for_website.pdf

[iii] Verité. “Assessment of Forced Labor Risk in the Cocoa Sector of Cote d’Ivoire.” February 2019. https://www.verite.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Verite-Report-Forced-Labor-in-Cocoa-in-CDI.pdf

[iv] Verité. “Assessment of Forced Labor Risk in the Cocoa Sector of Cote d’Ivoire.” February 2019. https://www.verite.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Verite-Report-Forced-Labor-in-Cocoa-in-CDI.pdf

[v] Verité. “Assessment of Forced Labor Risk in the Cocoa Sector of Cote d’Ivoire.” February 2019. https://www.verite.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Verite-Report-Forced-Labor-in-Cocoa-in-CDI.pdf

[vi] Robson, Paul. Anti-Slavery International. Ending Child Trafficking in West Africa Lessons from the Ivorian cocoa sector. 2011. http://www.antislavery.org/includes/documents/cm_docs/2011/c/cocoa_report_for_website.pdf

[vii] Verité. “Assessment of Forced Labor Risk in the Cocoa Sector of Cote d’Ivoire.” February 2019. https://www.verite.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Verite-Report-Forced-Labor-in-Cocoa-in-CDI.pdf

[viii] Cocoa Barometer. Cocoabarometer.org

[ix] Genevieve LeBaron. The Global Business of Forced Labour: Report of Findings. SPERI & University of Sheffield. 2018. http://globalbusinessofforcedlabour.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Report-of-Findings-Global-Business-of-Forced-Labour.pdf

[x] Genevieve LeBaron. The Global Business of Forced Labour: Report of Findings. SPERI & University of Sheffield. 2018. http://globalbusinessofforcedlabour.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Report-of-Findings-Global-Business-of-Forced-Labour.pdf

[xi] Genevieve LeBaron. The Global Business of Forced Labour: Report of Findings. SPERI & University of Sheffield. 2018. http://globalbusinessofforcedlabour.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Report-of-Findings-Global-Business-of-Forced-Labour.pdf

[xii] Walk Free Foundation. “Bitter Sweets: Prevalence of forced labour & child labour in the cocoa sectors of Côte d’Ivoire & Ghana.” September 2018.  https://cocoainitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Cocoa-Report_181004_V15-FNL_digital.pdf

[xiii] International Cocoa Initiative. Sustainable Development Goals: Child Labour in the Cocoa Sector. March 2017.  http://www.cocoainitiative.org/news-media-post/sustainable-development-goals-child-labour-in-the-cocoa-sector/

[xiv] Verité. “Assessment of Forced Labor Risk in the Cocoa Sector of Cote d’Ivoire.” February 2019. https://www.verite.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Verite-Report-Forced-Labor-in-Cocoa-in-CDI.pdf

IDH and Fair Price. The True Price of Cocoa from Ivory Coast. 2016. http://www.chocolatemakers.nl/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/TP-Cocoa.pdf

International Labor Rights Forum. Fairness Gap. 2014. http://www.laborrights.org/publications/fairness-gap

[xv] Embode; Commissioned by Mondelez International. Children at the Heart. 2016. https://www.cocoalife.org/~/media/CocoaLife/en/download//article/FULL_REPORT_Ghana_Mondelez_Embode_ChildrenattheHeart.pdf

[xvi] Massart, Guy S. International Cocoa Initiative. A Study of Child Mobility and Migrant Flows to the Cocoa-Producing Communities in Ghana. 2012. As cited in: Children at the Heart. 2016. https://www.cocoalife.org/~/media/CocoaLife/en/download//article/FULL_REPORT_Ghana_Mondelez_Embode_ChildrenattheHeart.pdf

Hashim, Iman; Thorsen, Dorte. Child Migration in Africa. 2011. http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:387010/FULLTEXT01.pdf

[xvii] Verité. “Assessment of Forced Labor Risk in the Cocoa Sector of Cote d’Ivoire.” February 2019. https://www.verite.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Verite-Report-Forced-Labor-in-Cocoa-in-CDI.pdf

[xviii] Hawksley, Humphrey. “Ivory Coast Cocoa Farms Child Labor: Little Change.” BBC News. November 10, 2011.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15681986

[xix] Mull, Diane L and Steven R Kirkhorn. Child Labor in Ghana Cocoa Production: Focus upon Agricultural Tasks, Ergonomic Exposures, and Associated Injuries and Illnesses. Public Health Reports. December 2005.

[xx] Fountain, Antonie and Friedel Huetz-Adams. “Cocoa Barometer 2018.” 2018. https://www.suedwind-institut.de/files/Suedwind/Publikationen/2018/2018-09%20Cocoa%20Barometer%202018%20English.pdf

[xxi] School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine Tulane University. Final Report 2013/14 Survey Research on Child Labor in West African Cocoa Growing Areas. 2015. https://makechocolatefair.org/sites/makechocolatefair.org/files/newsimages/tulane_university_-_survey_research_on_child_labor_in_the_cocoa_sector_-_30_july_2015.pdf

Cocoa Production and Supply Chain

According to the World Cocoa Foundation, between five and six million cocoa farmers exist worldwide.[i] Small, family-run farms account for 80 to 90 percent of all cocoa production.[ii] Due to the small average size of producers, cooperatives and other producer organizations can play an important role in enabling market access. These cooperatives may participate in voluntary certification programs.[iii]

Over 70 percent of cocoa is grown in the West African countries of CDI, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon.[iv] CDI alone represents 40 percent of global cocoa production. Cocoa trees produce cocoa pods, reaching peak production levels when they are around five years old. Farmers harvest cocoa pods, often using machetes. While cocoa pods may ripen throughout the growing season, there are often two peak production harvests each year. Harvest times and yields can be greatly impacted by changing weather patterns. The pods are split open, and the beans are removed and heaped into piles to ferment. After the beans ferment for several days, and the pulp that naturally surrounds them melts away, the beans are spread out to dry in the sun. After the beans are dried, they’re stored in sacks before being picked up by collectors or transporters. After processing, the beans are exported to the global market, where they are purchased by manufacturers to be processed into various cocoa products for commercial consumption.[v]

Most of the processing takes place in the United States or Europe, notably Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. Though cocoa processing and trade is centralized, industry groups argue that tracing cocoa usage to the actual farms where cocoa is grown is not currently possible in many cases due to the high number of middlemen, which can prevent industry groups from directly monitoring their suppliers.[vi]

[i] World Cocoa Federation. Cocoa Market Update. April 2014. http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/Cocoa-Market-Update-as-of-4-1-2014.pdf

[ii] World Cocoa Federation. Cocoa Market Update. April 2014. http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/Cocoa-Market-Update-as-of-4-1-2014.pdf

[iii] GEFAK mbH. Study on the state of farmer cooperatives in the cocoa sector of Côte d’Ivoire. 2015.

http://www.kakaoforum.de/fileadmin/user_uploads/Studien_und_Pr%C3%A4sentationen/GISCO_COOP_Report_GEFAK_Draft_3_ENG_20150501.pdf

F.E., Omoregbee; D.U., Okoedo-Okojie. Assessment of the Role of Cooperative Societies in Cocoa Production by Smallholders in Owan-West Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria. 2008. http://www.agrosciencejournal.com/public/agro7-8.pdf.

Fairtrade International, Fairtrade Africa. Fair Trade Cocoa in West Africa. 2014. www.fairtrade.net/fileadmin/user_upload/content/2009/resources/Fairtrade-cocoa-WestAfrica-report_2014.pdf

[iv] World Cocoa Federation.  About Cocoa.  http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/learn-about-cocoa/tree-to-table/how-chocolate-is-made.asp

World Cocoa Foundation. Our Approach.  http://worldcocoafoundation.org/our-work/our-approach/

[v] International Cocoa Organization (ICCO). How Exactly is Cocoa Harvested? https://www.icco.org/faq/58-cocoa-harvesting/130-how-exactly-is-cocoa-harvested.html

World Cocoa Foundation. Cocoa Market Update. April 2014. http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/Cocoa-Market-Update-as-of-4-1-2014.pdf

[vi] Hawksley, Humphrey. “Ivory Coast Cocoa Farms Child Labor: Little Change.” BBC News. November 10, 2011.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15681986

How do Trafficking and/or Child Labor in Cocoa Production Affect Me?

Cacao pods

Cocoa is the key ingredient of chocolate. It is also an important element of many cosmetics and soaps, pharmaceutical products, and baked goods which feature cocoa butter.

Europe consumes nearly 50 percent of the world’s chocolate, and the United States consumes approximately 25 percent.[i] 

[i] CNN Freedom Project. “Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” January 7, 2012. http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/17/who-consumes-the-most-chocolate

EXAMPLES

What Governments, Corporations, and Others are Doing

Due to high-profile advocacy from a number of organizations alleging the use of forced child labor in cocoa production, the confectionary industry and the Governments of Ghana, CDI, and the United States signed the Harkin-Engle Protocol committed to addressing child and forced labor in Ghana and CDI.[i] As part of this effort, the governments of Ghana and CDI successfully completed household surveys of child labor in the cocoa sector, the results of which were independently verified by third parties. Civil society, business, and government representatives oversaw this process through a multi-stakeholder body known as the International Cocoa Verification Board. An extension, known as the Joint Action Plan, was launched on September 13, 2010. The Action Plan commits a combined USD 17 million over ten years to build capacity in cocoa growing communities and to increase efforts to reduce the worst forms of child labor in cocoa production in Ghana and CDI by 70 percent by 2020.[ii] The signing of the Joint Action Plan also involved the formation of the Child Labor Cocoa Coordinating Group (CLCCG), which is a public-private partnership comprised of representation from the governments of CDI, Ghana, and the United States, and the international chocolate and cocoa industry. The CLCCG leverages resources and facilitates knowledge sharing to help eliminate child labor in West African cocoa production.[iii]

The World Cocoa Foundation, funded by cocoa industry members, seeks to improve livelihoods in cocoa farming communities and families worldwide.[iv] In May 2014, the WCF and cocoa companies established CocoaAction which works in consultation with the governments of Ghana and CDI to advance sustainability and improve livelihoods for 300,000 farmers in 1,200 cocoa growing communities.[v] In 2016, CocoaAction companies helped 147,000 farmers improve productivity and identified approximately 330 communities for community development engagements.[vi]

The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) is an industry-funded multi-stakeholder initiative that focuses on the elimination of child labor in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Under this goal, the ICI works to mobilize community child labor protection committees and provides awareness raising around child labor and child-protection issues, as well as working to improve access to education and other social services in cocoa growing communities.[vii] The ICI has reported that in the communities in which it works, school enrollment rates have increased by more than 20 percent.

The ICI has developed and implemented – in partnership with companies – the Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), which reportedly has high rates of child labor identification.[viii] The CLMRS was developed and piloted in one company’s supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire, before being adopted by nine companies in the 2015 CocoaAction Strategy. The CocoaAction Strategy committed these companies to extend the CLMRS so that 300,000 farmers are covered by 2020. ICI and seven of its member companies have expanded CLMRS coverage to almost 100,000 farmers.[ix] 

In April 2018, The Hershey Company announced the launch of Cocoa For Good, a “holistic cocoa sustainability strategy” that is dedicated to addressing key issues facing cocoa-growing communities including poverty, poor nutrition, at-risk youth, and vulnerable ecosystems. The strategy includes a commitment to eliminate child labor.[x]

Product certification is a consumer-facing tool that provides economic, social and environmental standards for producers and producer groups. The major sustainability standards with a labor component in African cocoa production are Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance. In addition to the social and environmental standards, Rainforest Alliance focuses on increasing producer productivity and product quality. Fair Trade focuses on increasing profit shares earned by producers and coops; Fair Trade buyers pay a higher price which farmers receive in a minimum price as well as a premium paid to cooperatives. Fair Trade chocolate production represents about 38 percent of certified cocoa globally. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana both produce Fair Trade Certified cocoa. 10.2 percent of global cocoa production is certified by Rainforest Alliance.[xi]

[i] U.S. Department of Labor. A Story of Chocolate and Child Labor. https://blog.dol.gov/2015/07/30/a-story-of-chocolate-and-child-labor/

[ii] U.S. Department of Labor. A Story of Chocolate and Child Labor. https://blog.dol.gov/2015/07/30/a-story-of-chocolate-and-child-labor/

[iii] U.D. Department of Labor. Child Labor in the Production of Cocoa. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/child-labor-cocoa

[iv] World Cocoa Foundation. Our Approach.  http://worldcocoafoundation.org/our-work/our-approach/

[v] World Cocoa Foundation. Reducing Child Labor is a Shared Responsibility. July 30, 2015.  http://worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-WCF-Press-Release-Response-2015-Tulane-Report-July-30.pdf

[vi] World Cocoa Foundation. Learning as We Grow: Putting CocoaAction into Practice. Annual Report 2016. https://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016-CocoaActionReport-English_WEB_10-30.pdf

[vii] Internationalcocoainitiative.org

[viii] International Cocoa Initiative. Sustainable Development Goals: Child Labour in the Cocoa Sector. March 2017.  http://www.cocoainitiative.org/news-media-post/sustainable-development-goals-child-labour-in-the-cocoa-sector/

[ix] International Cocoa Initiative. Sustainable Development Goals: Child Labour in the Cocoa Sector. March 2017.  http://www.cocoainitiative.org/news-media-post/sustainable-development-goals-child-labour-in-the-cocoa-sector/

[x] The Hershey Company. “Hershey Announces Cocoa For Good, the Company’s Half-Billion Dollar Sustainability Cocoa Strategy.” April 2018. https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/04/03/1459104/0/en/Hershey-Announces-Cocoa-For-Good-the-Company-s-Half-Billion-Dollar-Sustainable-Cocoa-Strategy.html

[xi] Rainforest Alliance. 2018 Rainforest Alliance Impacts Report Partnership, Learning, and Change. https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/sites/default/files/2018-03/RA_Impacts_2018.pdf

LEARN MORE

  • Watch a short video by the International Labor Organization (ILO) on child labor in Cameroon.
  • Read a manual by the ILO on best practices for reducing child labor in cocoa farms.