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Cadbury faces claims its chocolate is sourced from farms using child labour

A Channel 4 investigation found links between your crème egg and children as young as 10 harvesting cocoa beans in Ghana.

For most children in the UK, Easter eggs come from the Easter bunny. But a new documentary exposes where our chocolate actually comes from, with allegations of exploitation in the Cadbury supply chain.

A Channel 4 investigation claims children as young as 10 in Ghana are harvesting cocoa beans for food industry giant Mondelēz International, which owns Cadbury. 

Undercover footage in a Dispatches film broadcast on Monday shows children barefoot, wearing shorts and T-shirts, using machetes to harvest cocoa pods and clear weeds, wielding sharpened sticks to open the beans. Farmers are paid less than £2 a day, according to campaigners, and say they can’t afford to employ adults.

Anthony Barnett, the documentary reporter said: “Our investigation links Cadbury to child labour for the first time and shows how the brand has been misleading consumers on how ethical its chocolate really is.” 

A spokesperson for Mondelēz International 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.” 

Approximately 500 million crème eggs are made every year. Credit: Pixabay.

Mondelēz proudly proclaims its ethical credentials through its Cocoa Life programme, an initiative intended to remove child labour in its supply chain, prevent deforestation and “empower communities”.

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Many of the children in the Dispatches exposé were filmed working alone in dangerous conditions without supervision or protective clothing and carrying heavy loads. One girl said she was told she would help with childcare on her uncle’s farm but instead was forced into working long hours instead of attending school. More than 90 per cent of the world’s chocolate is produced on such small farms, according to Cocoa Life.

With Easter right around the corner and the Cocoa Life stamp of approval on many of Cadbury’s products, many may end up wondering where their chocolate comes from.

Consumer insights company Kantar reports the UK spent £153 million on Easter eggs in 2021, a figure that is expected to rise in 2022. Approximately 500 million crème eggs are made every year, two thirds of which are sold in the UK, according to Cadbury. That’s 3.5 eggs for each person in the country.

A Mondelēz International spokesperson told the Guardian: “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.

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