According to a Dispatches documentary aired on British TV on Monday night, children as young as 10 were alleged to have been filmed working in Ghana to harvest cocoa pods on farms that supply beans to Mondelēz through the company's Cocoa Life sustainability programme.
Under its initiative, Mondelēz said so far it has mapped approximately 167,800 cocoa farms that supply its businesses in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic and Brazil in an effort to erase child labour and prevent deforestation in its supply chain.
In a statement to Channel 4, a Mondelēz International spokesperson said: “We’re deeply concerned by the incidents documented in the Dispatches programme. We explicitly prohibit child labour in our operations and have been working relentlessly to take a stand against this, making significant efforts through our Cocoa Life programme to improve the protection of children in the communities where we source cocoa, including in Ghana.
“The welfare of the children and families featured is our primary concern and we commit to investigating further so we can provide any support needed. As part of our Cocoa Life programme, we have child labour monitoring and remediation systems in place in Ghana, which means community members and NGO partners are trained to provide assistance to vulnerable children, and once identified, we can help to address any cases of child labour.” The company said it had requested additional information from the Dispatches team so it could investigate.
In its latest financial results for 2021, the Chicago-headquartered company posted global profits of more than $4bn and its website states: ‘No amount of child labour in the cocoa supply chain should be acceptable’.
Ayn Riggs, founder of Slave Free Chocolate, which campaigns against child labour in the sector, told the documentary makers: “It’s horrifying to see these children using these long machetes, which are sometimes half their height. Chocolate companies promised to clean this up over 20 years ago. They knew they were profiting from child labour and have shirked their promises.”
Ghana is the second-largest cocoa producer in the world after Côte d’Ivoire, and under Ghanaian law, it is illegal for children under 13 to work on cocoa farms. There is also a ban on anyone under 18 being involved in hazardous labour.
Living Income Differential (LID)
In 2019, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire introduced a premium on the export price of its cocoa, known as the Living Income Differential (LID), of $400 per ton for cocoa farmers to attain a living income and allow young family members to attend school rather than work on the farm.
Mondelēz claimed it is paying the full LID, after it was reported last year that some major chocolate traders in Côte d'Ivoire were failing to pay farmers the new price for their cocoa.
"Mondelēz does not offer or have any influence over negative country differentials," the company said in a statement.