Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry
Chocolate is a staple dessert in many American households. However, journalists have recently helped expose the reality of the chocolate industry, revealing how most chocolate companies, including Hershey, Lindt, Mars and Nestle take advantage of child labor in the cocoa industry to increase profits. The cocoa that chocolate companies use to produce their products grows in the tropical climates of West Africa, Asia and Latin America, with West Africa producing 70% of the world’s cocoa. On average, the income of cocoa farmers is less than $2 a day. This income, which is below the poverty line, causes farmers to seek out cheap labor. Many children in West Africa live in poverty, so some children looking for work turn to cocoa farms, while others are sold into labor. Children as young as five work on these farms, enduring physical abuse and hazardous working conditions. One recently freed child slave said, “When people eat chocolate, they are eating my flesh.”

While child workers continue to be exploited, here are five chocolate companies that do not support child labor in the cocoa industry.

5 Chocolate Companies That Fight Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry

  1. Divine Chocolate: A group of farmers in Ghana founded this company in the early 1990s and set up a farmers’ co-op that traded its own cocoa and managed the entire sales process. The co-op, Kuapa Kokoo, aims to empower farmers by giving them a voice and providing ethical working conditions. The company also works to provide opportunities for women through literacy and numeracy programs, as well as training women to be buying clerks. The company is fairtrade certified and works to be environmentally conscious in its production.
  2. Endangered Species: This company focuses on farming cocoa in ethical working conditions and preserving wildlife diversity in its practice. In doing so, the company donates 10% of its annual profits to organizations that work to protect wildlife and animal habitats. Endangered Species is also the first chocolate company to source all of its cocoa from West Africa through fair trade, showing that it is committed to supporting cocoa farmers and their communities.
  3. Alter Eco: Alter Eco’s chocolate bars and truffles are made with cocoa from South Africa and only use ingredients that are clean and certified organic. The company is fairtrade certified, while also providing its partners with assistance by addressing concerns such as food security, biodiversity and gender equality. The company also aims to offset the effects of its chocolate production by practicing agroforestry, which copies the natural evolution of the forest and improves the wellbeing of its farms.
  4. Theo Chocolate: Theo Chocolate’s mission is to produce chocolate in a way that allows every member of production to thrive in the process. The company works directly with farmers in the Norandino Cooperative in Peru and Esco-Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to source its organic and fairtrade cocoa. As a fairtrade company, Theo Chocolate pays farmers above-market prices and prioritizes purchasing from smallholder farms.
  5. Shaman Chocolates: Shaman is a fairtrade certified company that donates 100% of its profits to the indigenous Huichol tribe in Mexico, which is the last tribe in North America to maintain their pre-Columbian traditions. A leader of the tribe, Brant Secunda, founded the company in order to provide financial support to allow the tribe to continue practicing their traditional lifestyle, keep conducting their ceremonies and create artwork. One of the company’s projects sent the first Huichol member to college, while other projects involve building schools and supplying beads.

In recent years, journalists have exposed the child labor that occurs in the cocoa industry. Children living in poverty sometimes turn to this industry for work and are subject to hazardous working conditions and abuses. While child labor is still used by some companies, through things like fair trade, these five companies fight child labor in the cocoa industry.

Natascha Holenstein
Photo: Pixabay

Companies That Empower WomenWomen living in poverty often lack the resources that lead to empowerment. One simple way to help is to buy products from companies that actively support impoverished women. Here are five companies empowering women living in poverty.

Alter Eco

Alter Eco is a San Francisco based chocolate company that sources 100 percent of its products from small-scale farmers. It uses pure organic coconut oil which comes from the Fair Trade Alliance Kerala on India’s Malabar coast. This farmer-owned co-op practices sustainable farming while also providing food and income security. Each household member has member status which empowers women to take charge in leadership positions. Women account for ten percent of the 4,500 members of the Trade Alliance Kerala

Café Femenino

Café Femenino is a coffee company that began after 464 women farmers in northern Peru began their own initiative to separate themselves from male farmers. They were the first women farmers to generate their own income and product base. To participate, cooperatives of the company must provide women legal rights to the land which they farm, leadership positions, financial and business decision-making power and direct payment for their coffee. Through Café Femenino’s program, women have received recognition, an increase in educational attendance, fewer incidences of physical and emotional abuse and an increase in male participation of domestic responsibilities. 


Athleta is a clothing company that purchased the P.A.C.E (Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement) program from GAP Inc. The program has established a workplace education program that teaches women managerial and other important skills that are necessary for career advancement. P.A.C.E has been implemented in six factories from 2009-2013, two in India, and one in China, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Vietnam. Over 3,200 women have been empowered by this program, with a goal of reaching 10,000 by 2020.


Kishe is a coffee company that is 100 percent owned by the coffee farmers of the FECCEG (La Federacion Comercializadora de Café’ Especial de Guatemala) cooperative in Guatemala. Of the over 2,000 small-scale members, one third are women. The majority of Kishe’s producers depend on farming for survival and come from indigenous communities. FECCEG helps many members to establish farms and sustain them. It has empowered women by teaching the necessary skills and confidence required to make a living as a woman farmer in Guatemala.

Coconut Bliss

Coconut Bliss is a dairy-free ice cream company that empowers women and girls in the Philippines. Its goal is to empower women by supporting their small businesses. As a project contributor for WAND (Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition, and Development Foundation), it has already contributed $20,000 of the $40,000 goal. Donated funds will help the production and distribution of coconut-derived ingredients. 


Women who live in rural communities are often trapped in poverty and live under male-controlled societies with very little control over their lives. When we purchase products that empower women living in poverty, they are able to get an education and make additional income which will result in fewer families living in poverty.

– Lisa Di Nuzzo
Photo: Flickr