Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 4, 2012 10:01 AM
Since the late ‘70s, chocolate maker Nestle has had one group of customers so irate with it for allegedly misrepresenting the positives of breast-milk substitutes to uninformed consumers that they’ve been boycotting their products for decades. Now the company has another problem on its hands.
A study commissioned by Nestle found “numerous” violations of its “measures to combat child labor in the Ivory Coast cocoa industry,” according to Bloomberg.
The Fair Labor Association’s report found that “four-fifths of (Nestle’s) cocoa comes from channels for which information on labor is opaque.” In response, the company hosted a webcast in which it outlined its cocoa plan, including “new monitoring programs in two cooperatives this year and in 30 by 2016.”
“The use of child labor in our cocoa supply goes against everything we stand for,” Jose Lopez, Nestle’s head of operations, stated on the webcast. “You can be here talking about child labor but if there’s no school, it’s not going to work.”
According to Bloomberg, about one-tenth of the world’s cocoa supply is purchased by Nestle and the Ivory Coast provides more than a third of that.
“Child labor is a more persistent problem than anybody believed,” FLA President Auret van Heerden commented to Bloomberg. “What we’re talking about is changing the way companies in the industry do business, and Nestle has taken the first step.”
This could mean a big shift for the company since a 2008 government survey had it that about 89 percent of the children in Ivory Coast were involved with cocoa production in one way or another.
[Image at top from Nestle's infographic outlining its FLA response.]