April 2018 Report
Through its so-called Cocoa for Good programme, the company will invest $500m in the hope of producing its iconic chocolate Kisses from more sustainable cocoa. It will look to support four key areas: nourishing children, empowering youth, building prosperous communities, and preserving natural ecosystems. The initiative’s goals include eliminating child labour and increasing shade-grown cocoa, which can be productive for as much as 15 years longer than plants grown in full sun.
Consumer-focused companies from Unilever to McDonald’s have invested more in sustainable sourcing as customers increasingly look for those credentials before spending their dollars.
Brands are increasingly embracing sustainability and attempting to bring more transparency to their processes and yet, we may never reach the goal of a quality and quantity equilibrium. After surveying some of the world's top ethics and sustainability organisations, there's another sector of the industry that deserves more attention and resources: child labour.
As Carry Sommers, co-founder of Fashion Revolution notes: "Child labour is still rife within cotton fields, as well as in ginning and spinning, so how do consumers know that they aren’t supporting child labour with the next cotton garment they buy? Most fashion brands have child labour within their supplier code of conduct, but many brands are failing to take steps to ensure their policies are put into practice."
And from our perspective, it is about finding sustainable solutions to the problem with the suppliers and not simply ignoring it.
There are no recent studies on the number of child domestic workers in Pakistan, with the last reported number to be 264,000 in 2004. With population explosion, increasing poverty and stagnant unskilled wages, it is safe to assume today's number is in multiples of that. The ILO report classifies as the worst form of child labour, any domestic work, ‘where a child works, for long hours, during the night and is unreasonably confined to the premises of an employer, sometimes under debt bondage.’
Society needs to reject employing children as domestic servants, the government needs to stick to its constitution of providing free and compulsory education; and although Pakistan had ratified international child labour conventions, its laws are not aligned to them, as 'domestic work' is not considered as 'hazardous'.
Child labour remains at very high levels in the cocoa industry, with 2.1 million children estimated to be working in cocoa fields in the Ivory Coast and Ghana alone, the Cocoa Barometer report 2018 -- attributed to the lack of schools and infrastructure, poverty and increased cocoa production.
“It is important to stress that child labour is a symptom of deeper problems; without tackling systemic poverty and a lack of local infrastructures, child labour will not be eradicated,” according to the report.
Rising consumer demand for slave-free goods and services has got some of the world’s biggest retailers and food companies including Kellogg Co, Walmart Inc, and Nestle to improve global supply chains. Food and drink supply chains are complex with multiple layers across various countries - whether in sourcing raw ingredients or processing the final product - making it hard to spot and remedy abuses.
Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), which represents about 400 retailers and manufacturers across the world - said it is creating a benchmark to support the development of more socially and environmentally responsible supply chains.