Cracked it: Choosing good eggs this Easter
By Veronika Cox
The sweet treats of Easter could be hiding a bitter centre, Director of the Office of Justice and Peace Ben Smith has cautioned shoppers.
With around 70 percent of the world’s supply of cocoa beans, a key ingredient of chocolate, coming from countries in West Africa, most of the farmers involved in the farming of cocoa beans receive an income lower than a living income.
Consequently, the practice of using cheap child labour is endemic.
“It is important that the signs and symbols we use to celebrate our Easter freedom from the slavery of sin and death do not perpetuate the slavery of West African children who are often trapped in a cycle of poverty,” Mr Smith explained.
“We should be aware that according to Pope Francis ‘purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act’.”
Mr Smith said the growing practice of labelling chocolate products to indicate that their ingredients are responsibly sourced, gives consumers the opportunity to morally discern their purchasing decisions as they walk down the supermarket aisle.
“Shoppers can now be empowered to become ethical purchasers by doing some background research and keeping an eye out for various logos that indicate that chocolates and other products such as tea and coffee are sustainably sourced,” he said.
“As these ethical choices become more widespread, there is an opportunity to create a virtuous cycle to help address the roots of poverty and modern slavery.”
Over the past decade, there has been a concerted effort to address the issue of child labour and a range of unsafe work practices.
“Progress has been made in improving farming yields but the price of cocoa has fallen at a higher rate, and there is more child labour used now compared to when these improvement programs began,” Mr Smith explained.
“The problem is ultimately a function of market dynamics in which a few companies control the supply chain and farmers have little bargaining power. Programs that are directly linked to a living income (eg. Fairtrade) will make the most progress in alleviating child labour.”
A Tasmanian guide to Easter egg hunting
This guide focuses on Easter eggs and other chocolates that can be bought locally in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets.
Chocolate products labelled with one of the following independent certification logos are the best chocolates to buy to minimise the risk of modern slavery:
There are some niche chocolate companies that use these programs to certify all their products: Whittaker’s and Chocolatier.
There are also a number of large chocolate companies that have developed corporate programs that are trying to reduce the use of child labour in the farming of cocoa in West Africa. They are not as stringent as the three independent certification schemes. However, they are taking some action to improve the livelihood for cocoa farmers and reduce the requirement for child labour. These companies are ranked below based on their performance in a recent survey conducted in 2021 by Be Slavery Free:
|1||Lindt||Lindt & Sprungli Farming Program||All products|
|2||Cadbury||Cocoa Life||Products with Cocoa Life logo|
|3||Ferrero||Ferrero Sustainability||All products|
|4||Nestle||Cocoa Plan||All products|
|5||Darrel Lea||Cocoa Horizons||All products|