Getting Chocolates isn’t as Sexy as You Think… Here’s Why.

Getting Chocolates isn’t as Sexy as You Think… Here’s Why.


Valentine’s Day is here!

Now you may be thinking, “I should buy these chocolates to show my love for themIt’ll be a great idea!”.  Well not exactly… and that’s because not all chocolates are sustainably producedYou’d be surprised by the amount of chocolates being produced today that are still manufactured using unethical processes that contribute to deforestation and child labor.  Ethical and ecological concerns in the chocolate industry are the biggest problems, so if you’re thinking of buying chocolate, make sure that you use your judgement in buying sustainably from chocolate producers that are ethically sourced. 



Wait Child Workers Make Our Chocolates…? Unfortunately Yes, for the Majority.

As stated in an article by Food Empowerment Project, forced and child labor is a huge problem in the chocolate industry.  In the past, big corporations faced allegations of employing forced labor in the manufacturing processes sourced from Western African countries like Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, major suppliers of approximately 70% of the world’s cocoa. In certain instances, the questionable practices associated with chocolate sourcing have been labeled as forms of slavery.  Therefore, these unethical practices result in an unsustainable product.  

To dive a bit deeper as to what exactly makes most chocolates unethically produced, roughly 2.1 million children in Ghana and the Côte d’Ivoire working on cocoa farms only make $1 a day, an income below the extreme poverty line, and are exposed to the “worst forms of child labor” as quoted by the International Labour Organization (ILO).  Many cases also involve human trafficking and physical abuse to force child workers to comply. Unfortunately, poverty is a huge factor in these cases of child labor and human trafficking, as some parents are forced to sell their children to farmers. To make matters worse, they’re also being forced to use tools and chemicals that are harmful to their health such as machetes and pesticides.   

For more information on the specifics of unsustainable practices with chocolate production, check out the full Food Empowerment Project’s article here.


Fair Trade Cocoa… Is it 100% Guaranteed?

The truth is, we still have a lot of work to do until supply chain transparency is a mainstream practice in large, multinational chocolate companies.  With the Modern Slavery Act active in Canada, it is mandatory for companies to know what is in their supply chain, so it’s a step in the right direction.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to know right now if all chocolates we buy involve child and forced labor, however chocolate companies that are certified by Fairtrade are reputable when it comes to sustainable and ethical manufacturing processes. 

As Fairtrade states, “Fairtrade Standards prohibit child labor, but no person or product certification system can provide a 100% guarantee that a product is free of child labor”. So even though some chocolates that are being sold at the grocery store near you may not be 100% ethically produced, Fairtrade certified companies have higher chances of proper sourcing practices.  Chocolate brands that are certified must go through strict criteria to be labeled as fair trade, so since this is the case, we advise you to still be mindful about your next chocolate purchases. 



So How Can We Make Better Choices?

To minimize the chances of buying unsustainably manufactured chocolate products, here are some resources we recommend you look at. Yes, we know we just said that making fair-trade purchases isn’t 100% guaranteed to be child labour-free, but it is at least minimized with our following suggestions. 

On the bright side, there are chocolate brands today that are setting a great example with equitable practices in sustainability and sourcing efforts.   Purdy’s Chocolatier and AWAKE Chocolate are examples of chocolate brands that are certified by Fairtrade Canada, and we encourage you to check out other certified brands as well.

Overall, it is important that companies emphasize supply chain transparency and that companies should make any decision that eliminates or mitigates forced labour.




Here are some suggestions we recommend you to look at: 

  • Buy local: Buying local allows you to support your local business! 
  • Encourage your local chocolate companies to source ethically 
  • Check out Fairtrade Canada:  Fairtrade Canada recommends a wide variety of chocolate brands that are sustainably sourced that must pass certain criteria to qualify as fair trade. 
  • Check out The Food Empowerment Project Chocolate List: They have a list of chocolate brands that they can comfortably recommend as fair-trade chocolate.  
  • Check Out the World Vision Chocolate Guide: They has a fair-trade chocolate guide that recommends which chocolate brands are ethically produced, such as chocolate brands that are owned by the farmers themselves, and farmers receiving a living wage.