The 2022 Chocolate Scorecard has shed light on the chocolate industry’s good producers and “rotten eggs” after its latest survey.
Researchers have rated the social and environmental impact of the companies that control global cocoa production.
The annual Chocolate Scorecard study surveyed 38 of the world’s largest chocolate companies, including chocolate traders, processors, and manufacturers.
These account for 80-90% of the global chocolate products, Easter eggs among them and giants such as Mars, Lindt, Nestlé, Mondelez (Cadbury), Ferrero, and Hershey’s.
Ranking highly in ethical terms were US-based Alter Eco, Beyond Good, New Zealand-based Whittaker’s, and Tony’s Chocolonely from the Netherlands.
Only three businesses namely Starbucks, General Mills, and Storck, manufacturer of Werther’s Original chose not to take part in the study, eschewing transparency and opting instead to conceal their practices.
The 38 companies were rated on the six most pressing sustainability issues facing the chocolate industry: traceability and transparency; living income policies; child labour; deforestation and climate; agroforestry; and agrichemical management.
Child Labour Issues
While there had been improvements in many areas since last year’s survey, the researchers said there is still a long way to go in addressing the issue of approximately 1.56 million children involved in child labour.
This is in spite of repeated calls to address the issue and following a major academic study in 2020 revealing the scope of the problem.
Just this week footage emerged of children working with machetes on a cocoa farm that supplies Mondelez, owner of Cadbury.
“We are not surprised at all that a journalist found child labourers on farms allegedly supplying to Mondelez. Our concern is that we are not finding more of these children,” says Fuzz Kitto of Be Slavery Free, the Australia-based charity which coordinated the Chocolate Scorecard.
“Much of the child labour found in West Africa is the hazardous form of child labour, where a child is in danger through such things as carrying heavy loads, using dangerous equipment, such as machetes, or being exposed to chemicals.”
“Every year, the big players in the chocolate industry assure us that they will do something about the child labour and the huge number of children being exposed to chemicals that burn their skin and affect their breathing. We say that progress is too slow and they have to stop poisoning children to produce chocolate.”
“If companies start paying farmers properly, the farmers would get enough income to take good care of these children, and there would be fewer or no children forced to work in cocoa production and fewer farmers cutting corners with dangerous pesticides.”
The Chocolate Scorecard focuses on the production and supply chains that start in West Africa, where around 75% of the world’s cocoa is produced.
“We’re often asked what chocolate is the most ethical to eat, so we always set out to name and fame rather than just name and shame. That way consumers would get to see how better it looks like,” says Fuzz Kitto.
Good Eggs and Rotten Eggs
This year, Ferrero joins the list of companies, including Hershey’s, Fazer, and Ritter, whose cocoa is close to 100% certified by the Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade.
“While certification is not perfect,” says Fuzz Kitto, “it is often a positive first step in a company’s sustainability journey.”
Storck, Starbucks, and General Mills were awarded the researchers’ “broken egg” for their continuing refusal to cooperate with the Chocolate Scorecard.
Storck was given the worst rating overall and awarded this year’s rotten egg for a lack of transparency about its policies and practices in its cocoa supply chain, and in light of civil society complaints about the company.