New chocolate powerhouse Mondelez International will be the next major player to come under the spotlight over child labor on cocoa farms in Africa and will face pressure from NGOs to source 100% certified cocoa.
Last week, Hershey joined Ferrero and Mars in making a pledge to use only sustainable cocoa by 2020, while earlier this year Nestlé promised to take 11 steps to tackle child labor after it allowed a probe by the Fair Labor Association (FLA). See here .
That leaves Mondelez, home to the big-selling Cadbury and Milka brands, as the only major confectioner yet to make a pledge. And according to 2010 data , it is the one using the most cocoa.
NGO STOP THE TRAFFIK, Netherlands, is currently running a campaign to encourage Mondelez to commit to certified cocoa goals.
Its director, Antonie Fountain director says: “The pressure is on them to start moving. They can’t keep waiting.”
Mondelez: ‘concerned’ about child labor
Jonathan Horrell, director of sustainability at Mondelēz International, responded to allegations that the company risked slipping behind competitors:
“As the world's largest chocolate company, we're concerned about child labor in West African cocoa farms. “
“We condemn the worst forms of child labor and want it to be eradicated. That's why we're involved in substantial efforts to address forced labor and the worst forms of child labor in cocoa farming.”
He said the firm had committed $70m in a Cocoa Partnership scheme since 2008 to improve farming practices over 10 years.
‘Sititng on Cadbury commitments’?
Fountain said that the Kraft Foods’ global snacks spin-off, has been “sitting on the commitments of Cadbury”.
Cocoa Partnership was launched in 2008 as a £40m ($65m) program to improve cocoa farming in Ghana, India, Indonesia and the Caribbean over a decade. It was launched two years before Kraft Foods acquired Cadbury.
Last year Kraft expanded the Cocoa Partnership to the Dominican Republic and it claims to be looking to build on its efforts further.
One notable absentee from the scheme is the Ivory Coast - the world’s largest cocoa producer.
Horrelll said that Kraft and its peer companies had been working since 2001 with the Ivorian government to address the root causes of child labor.
But Mondelez has yet to commit to sourcing 100% certified cocoa from farms that conduct audits to stamp out child labor.
“Certification of agricultural commodities through Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade is key to our approach,” said Horrell.
“Today we're the world’s largest buyer of Fairtrade Certified cocoa and Fairtrade Organic cocoa and among the world’s largest buyers of cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. “
How much of Mondelez’s cocoa is currently certified is unclear. Projections from 2010 data from the Tropical Commodity Coalition estimated that around 11.4% of Kraft Foods’ 440,000 T cocoa volume would be certified by 2012.
Mondelez only launched on 1 October and details of new initiatives will be shared as they are confirmed, said Horrell.