Target: Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Mondelēz International
Goal: Stop endorsing child labor and slavery by switching to fair-trade cocoa.
Chocolate’s worldwide appeal has made it quite the ubiquitous treat. It can be found everywhere from high-end restaurants and bakeries to our children’s Halloween bags and Easter baskets. What most consumers don’t realize, however, is that this seemingly innocuous candy is, in fact, fueled by child labor and slavery.
Mondelēz International, formerly known as Kraft Foods, Inc., is just one of several mega food corporations that uses non-fair trade chocolate, meaning that its chocolate is made from cocoa beans harvested from child laborers. Most cocoa is grown in Western African countries like Ivory Coast, where cocoa makes up to 60 percent of the country’s export revenue. Because of these countries’ dependence on cocoa farming and their extreme poverty, child laborers are often used to maintain competitive prices.
Some of these children choose to work at a young age to help support their impoverished families, but many more are kidnapped from neighboring villages and sold into slavery in the cocoa farming industry. Children as young as 5 have been reported working in this field. Many children face serious injuries and even amputations as a result of working with crude, dangerous tools and machinery.
The chocolate that Mondelēz and many other companies use in their foods are a direct product of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery. Families are torn apart, innocent children are exploited, and lives are ruined for the sake of producing chocolate cheaply. This is undeniably unethical and absolutely must not be tolerated.
Fortunately, there is an alternative. More and more companies are choosing to use only fair-trade cocoa in their products, meaning that the farmers harvesting the cocoa are compensated fairly and are not being exploited. Demand that Mondelēz International do the right thing by promising to switch exclusively to fair-trade cocoa.
Dear Ms. Rosenfeld,
Mondelēz International’s products are known and loved throughout the world. Because of this company’s enormous influence, it has a responsibility to its consumers to manufacture its products as ethically as possible. That is why it is vital that Mondelēz end its partnership with cocoa suppliers that use child labor and slavery to harvest their cocoa beans.
As long as Mondelēz continues to use cocoa that is not fair-trade and ethically sourced, it will continue to exploit children in vulnerable, impoverished communities. Child labor is all too common in countries like Ivory Coast and The Gambia, where most of the world’s cocoa is grown. These children start working around the age of 12 or even younger, and many are forced into labor by human traffickers. This is a major human rights violation, but far too many companies like Mondelēz turn a blind eye in order to continue profiting from cheap labor.
Cocoa farmers deserve fair and humane working conditions, and a livable wage — and they most certainly should never be children. It is time to do the responsible thing and stop contributing to child labor and slavery. Please switch to exclusively fair-trade cocoa suppliers. I hope that such a momentous change will influence other large companies to do the same.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Indi Samarajiva