It came as a nasty surprise to learn that child labour is used in the supply chain for one of our favourite treats – chocolate.
I was only alerted to the fact because Nestlé is applying to join the Fair Labor Association which monitors supply chains to eliminate child labour and other human rights violations.
In January, the FLA will send a team to Côte d’Ivoire to map Nestlé’s cocoa supply chain. There are about 800,000 cocoa farms in the country making it difficult for companies to establish where their cocoa comes from and under what conditions it was farmed.
“We cannot solve the problem on our own,” said Nestlé’s executive vice president for operations José Lopez, “but by working with a partner like the FLA we can make sure our efforts to address it are targeted where they are needed most.”
The Fair Labor Association was created in 1999 with the support of US president Bill Clinton as a collaboration of companies, civil society organisations, and colleges and universities.
FLA chief Auret van Heerden said: “Eliminating child labour will take an enormous commitment from Nestlé and other companies sourcing from the region. This project is a step in the right direction, but the real test will be in whether issues uncovered in the investigation are addressed promptly and in a lasting manner.”
Nestlé is reckoned to be the first food company to join the association. Let’s hope it won’t be the last to take up the challenge of eliminating child labour from our supply chains.