The time has come to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ by eating a lot of chocolate, particularly rabbit-shaped chocolate. And while this tradition does speak to us about the empty tomb, new-life, and freedom in Christ, for some who have provided the cocoa to make your Easter eggs, freedom and life worth living is far from their day to day experience.
The abduction and trafficking of children to cocoa production farms is an ongoing injustice. Robbed of the chance to have a childhood, these child labourers toil all day to collect cocoa for their ‘owners’ so that the world can continue its vast chocolate obsession. In other circumstances, some cocoa farmers are paid so poorly for their product by large multinational companies, that they just survive from day to day.
It doesn’t have to be this way. As consumers we have a choice about what we buy. There are three key organisations helping consumers make informed decisions and combating slavery in production and unsustainable practices.
Fairtrade helps to make cocoa farming more sustainable by guaranteeing minimum prices and providing a premium to invest in local communities, so that small-scale farmers and workers can provide a better future for themselves and their families. This also assists in eradicating child labour as the farmers now have enough income to employ people and not rely on child slavery.
Rainforest Alliance works to improve environmental practices and conditions for farm workers. While their focus is on the environment, a product cannot be certified if there is forced labour, child labour or coercion.
UTZ certifies coffee, cocoa, tea and hazelnuts, this means when purchasing UTZ chocolate not all ingredients (e.g. milk and sugar) are certified by the same measures. Farmers of UTZ cocoa have been trained to implement better farming practices, with respect for people and the planet. UTZ standards are guided by fairness and transparency, this means supporting farmers in using better farming methods and working conditions, as well as having a transparent supply chain that allows consumers and companies to see exactly how much product has come from UTZ certified farms.
Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and UTZ are all members of the Global Living Wage Coalition. This ensures workers get paid enough to cover aspects of daily life like food, housing, medical care, education, and saving for life after work. They also all audit certified farmers regularly to ensure they are meeting their respective requirements to remain certified.
This has been a slow but successful program, and the more we support these initiatives, the quicker we can help in ending child slavery and other exploitative practices associated with cocoa production.
So this Easter, look for the Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and UTZ logos when buying your chocolate.
For more information see:
For ethically certified Easter Eggs see:
This year Aldi, Coles, and Woolworths are stocking some Easter Eggs carrying the Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and UTZ logos – so look out for them!