International advocacy groups publish joint consumer purchasing guide to more ethical chocolate choices, just in time for Easter.
Mighty Earth has teamed up with Green America and Be Slavery Free to publish a joint version of its annual Easter scorecard, analyzing the world’s biggest chocolate companies’ commitments to address social and environmental issues.
The groups surveyed 13 chocolate companies and eight cocoa suppliers, examining their policies in six of the most pressing sustainability issues facing the chocolate industry:
mandatory due diligence;
transparency and traceability;
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deforestation and climate change;
living income policies;
and child labor, focusing primarily on child labor monitoring and remediation systems.
“Equipped with this scorecard, consumers can buy their Easter chocolates knowing whether their treats are likely tainted by deforestation and human rights abuses,” Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director Etelle Higonnet said in a statement. “Consumers’ purchases highlight that we, at a time of global crisis, are all truly interconnected and that we are in this together.”
While global chocolatiers including Hershey, Mars and Nestlé rated well, the San Francisco-based, Fair Trade-certified Alter Eco; and New Zealand’s Whittaker’s, which specializes in palm oil-free chocolates, took the top two spots, respectively. Tony’s Chocolonely received this year’s “Golden Egg Award” for its efforts to reshape the industry, while Godiva received poor scores across the board from the groups, receiving the “Rotten Egg Award” for its poor performance.
Tony’s Chocolonely — which sources from the same supplier as Godiva — earned the Golden Egg Award for its work to demonstrate that an ethical business model is possible in the chocolate industry — the young chocolatier works to support its supplier to improve its operations.
Chocolate production is notoriously unsustainable — riddled with the aforementioned deforestation and human rights issues, as well as incredibly low wages for farmers in cocoa-growing regions around the world.
"Fairtrade America applauds Mighty Earth for shedding light on the injustices in the cocoa industry. Fairtrade works with over 250,000 cocoa farmers worldwide and are aware of the challenges they face,” Mary Linnell-Simmons, Director of Marketing at Fairtrade America, told Sustainable Brands™ via email. “In 2019, we increased the Fairtrade price and premium cocoa farmers are paid by 20 percent — a huge jump — and yet there is still more to do. Farmers struggle to balance the difficulties of earning enough to live and eat, sending their children to school and protecting their environment. Moving towards a living income would go a long way to address these systematic issues — without this there are few interventions that will truly make a difference.”
While the scorecard highlights a few bright spots, as Linnell-Simmons said, much work remains to be done to make chocolate a sustainable industry. Companies must keep working to eliminate farmer poverty, deforestation and child labor, among other things, from their supply chains; and consumers must make discerning choices, and support the companies doing more to create lasting improvements on the ground.
The guide breaks down company commitments and policies; it does not assess effectiveness or implementation. Read more on the findings here and more on the methodology here.