We eat chocolate for comfort, celebration, and indulgence. But what’s going into the chocolate we buy? The fourth edition of the Chocolate Scorecard has surveyed the world’s biggest chocolate companies to find out how they are addressing key challenges in the Cocoa-chocolate value chain! This year’s scorecard ranks 83 of the largest chocolate companies (brands), retailers, and processes on their performance in six sustainability categories namely Traceability Transparency, Child Labor, Living Income, Deforestation and Climate, Agroforestry, and Chemical Management. The Survey found that some are rising to the challenge, but others continue to ignore consumer demand for chocolate that’s free of child labour, poverty, and deforestation and chocolate that’s good for people and the planet. The 2023 Chocolate Scorecard is led by three research institutions – Macquire University Sydney, The Open University, UK, and the University of Wollongong and coordinated by Be Slavery Free (Australia) and supported by a global coalition of NGOs including Green America, INKOTA, Mighty Earth, EcoCare Ghana, and the National Wildlife Federation.
The survey found that the Sustainability claims of chocolate companies cannot necessarily be trusted. Sustainability claims made by companies are defined narrowly to refer only to their programs, which may foster sustainable practices but do not refer to the actual status of their cocoa or necessarily improve the actual living conditions of cocoa farmers. It was found that farmers taking part in sustainability programmes are often not well compensated for their efforts and remain extremely poor.
It was also found that “only 11% of chocolate companies surveyed can fully trace where their cocoa comes from. Further, on average 40% of cocoa is purchased indirectly, meaning the buyer doesn’t know who they bought from or where it came from. Without knowing where cocoa comes from you can’t possibly claim it is sustainable.
Farmers need to be paid more for their cocoa to ensure a sustainable life. The account of poverty in cocoa-growing communities, especially in West Africa, has been articulated extensively. Its connection to child labour, forced labour and human trafficking as well as the deforestation of national forests is indisputable.
A recent report by Oxfam claims that the “net income of farmers decreased by an estimated 16.38% between the 2019/20 and 2021/22 harvesting season.” When the price of cocoa increases everything else a farmer purchase increases in price, leaving worse off in reality. However, this doesn’t affect chocolate companies in the same way but rather led to increases in their profits. The global chocolate market was valued at a revenue of USD 131.9 million in 2021. It is projected to grow at 4.50% annually.
The latest report on child labour indicates about 1.5 million children work on cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and 95% of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labour. The findings from the survey indicate that significant progress is being made by companies in their effort to address child labour but it also indicates that only 6% of children in the worst forms of child labour have been identified.
Cocoa is a major global driver of forest destruction. West Africa, (Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana) produces three-quarters of the world’s cocoa, but has lost about 94% and 80% respectively, of their forests to cocoa production in the last 60 years. Out of the 53 companies that responded, 48 of them have a ‘no-deforestation’ policy in place. This policy required their suppliers to source cocoa from areas where there has been no destruction of the forest canopy.
What needs to happen:
Consumers and investors need to know where their chocolate come from and what they invest in, making this scorecard an important tool to reform practices in the sector. We also need companies and LBCs sourcing the cocoa in Ghana to pay greater attention to the problems outlined in these categories and advise corporate plans and strategies to combat deforestation. As frontline agents in addressing deforestation and improving income, much more is expected of LBCs to escape poverty, reduce deforestation and end all forms of child labour.
The 2023 Chocolate Scorecard ranked Original Beans as the most sustainable chocolate company, followed by Tony’s ChocoLonely and Beyond Good.
Download the full report here
- Samuel Mawutor (Mighty Earth) on +233 2462 2517 or email @ firstname.lastname@example.org
- Obed Owusu-Addai (EcoCare Ghana) on +233 24 035 5320 or email @ email@example.com
 NORC: Assessing Progress in Reducing Child Labor in Cocoa Production in Cocoa Growing Areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.