Chocolate should be enjoyed by children, not made by them

Chocolate should be enjoyed by children, not made by them

Increasingly, companies are fighting for children’s rights, and establishing systems to prevent child labour. But there is still a long way to go.

To get an idea of how prevalent child labour is, let’s zoom in on West Africa, where around 75% of the world’s cocoa is grown.

. A 2020 report found that in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire alone, 1.48 million children were exposed to at least one component of hazardous child labour in cocoa production.*

It’s an issue not exclusive to chocolate. Laureates And Leaders reported a continued increase in child labour within Africa and a continued decrease in child labour in the rest of the world in recent years.**

The Past Three Years Have Seen Huge Progress

97% of the companies we surveyed for The Chocolate Scorecard said that they have a Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Scheme (CLMRS) in place, or that they were in situations where the problem was being addressed in another manner (through community development programs for example). All too often, there is little collaboration between companies, but what we appreciate about CLMRS is that it is a common system that can be employed industry-wide.

Where CLMRS fall short is that they are generally only in operation for direct suppliers, such as the co-op the company bought the cocoa from. But what about the suppliers before them, like the cocoa farm? Without stronger connections between companies and their indirect suppliers, these kinds of schemes cannot benefit everyone in the supply chain. We cover more about transparency and traceability here.  

Walking The Walk

A company has a CLMRS in place. They’re talking the talk. When it comes time to take action, what does this look like?

Accepting the problem exists and actively looking for it.

It’s only once exploitation is found that companies can do something about it.

Addressing the root cause of the problem, poverty.

Children that are exposed to child labour often belong to families in cocoa farming communities that are in desperate poverty. The low price they receive for cocoa is often the reason why they make the desperate decision to expose their children to child labour

Have an action plan for when child labour is identified.

We asked companies what percentage of cocoa farmer households in their supply chain were included in programs that address a situation where children were found to be in situations of child labour.

  • 44% said over 90% are included
  • 28% said between 60-90%
  • 19% said up to 60% were included
  • 9% said that none were included

This means that there are situations where even if child labour is identified, the children exposed may not receive any assistance or financial aid to help transition them out of child labour and into school.

Children carrying loads in cocoa farming. Photo Credit Fuzz Kitto

I am but one individual chocolate lover. What can I do to help?

It’s not all bitter, we’ve found a number of companies leading the way, and more and more are joining the ranks. What makes companies really pause and pay attention is data and their bottom line. With that in mind, the best way to create positive change is to get out and eat some chocolate! We can think of worse ways to be an activist.

Click here to explore the top-ranked brands in the child labour prevention category. 


Fuzz Kitto, co-Director of Be Slavery Free and Athina Greenhalgh

* The Nonpartisan and Objective Research Organization (NORC) at The University of Chicago, 2020

**Justice For Africa’s Children, Laureates And Leaders For Children, 2023,

Just like chocolate, this blog is better shared.