Thursday, May 30, 2024

Chocolate Scorecard calls for change

Chocolate is a sweet treat that we often share with people we love to celebrate a special occasion, or just to indulge a sweet moment. But often the conditions that it’s made in are far from sweet.

When cocoa farmers and their communities are living in poverty, they deforest to clear more land to grow more cocoa. They rely on family and unpaid labor (child labor and forced labor) to make ends meets. As a result, our environment is harmed, and children’s future opportunities are squandered, just to survive.

The chocolate industry is undergoing significant change, but certain aspects, such as farmer poverty, remain unchanged despite being a longstanding issue. Be Slavery Free, an Australian coalition of civil society campaigning against modern slavery, says it’s essential that the chocolate industry continues to prioritise sustainability, fair labor practices, and environmental conservation.

“This includes ensuring fair compensation for farmers, promoting responsible sourcing practices, reducing pesticide use, and safeguarding against child, any forced labor and deforestation,” a spokesperson said.

“The chocolate industry has the resources to address these challenges. It is powerful and lucrative. Consumption is around 1kg for each person on the planet – that is 7.7 billion people! Forecasted revenue growth stands at 5.6%, surpassing global economic growth estimates of 2.6%. In 2024, it is expected to generate around US$254 billion.”

Scoring players

The Chocolate Scorecard initiative, coordinated by Be Slavery Free in collaboration with various stakeholders, aims to promote transparency, accountability, and responsible practices within the industry. By evaluating companies on social and environmental criteria, the Chocolate Scorecard provides valuable information for consumers to make ethical purchasing decisions and incentivises companies to improve their performance in these areas.

It contains the scoring for 63 companies – large, small chocolate companies and retailers (on their “own brand” chocolate). They are rated in 6 areas and then given an overall score. The areas are:

  • Traceability and transparency
  • Living income for the faming families
  • Child and forced labor
  • Deforestation and climate change
  • Agroforestry practices
  • Chemical and pesticide management.

Each area then the aggregated score places the areas and the company overall rating in 4 colors; Green – leading in policy and practice, Yellow – progressing in policy and practice, Orange – needs improvement in policy and practice, Red – Trailing in policy and practice.

Chocolate Scorecard also awards companies that are leading in different areas. This year the winners are:

  • Tony’s Chocolonely – the Achievement Award for being a leader and attaining green (industry leader) 5 years in a row!
  • Ritter – for overall best practices for a large chocolate company.
  • Original Beans and Beyond Good tied for best overall practices for a small chocolate company.
  • Chocolate Makers for the Innovation Award.
  • Lidl and Pladis joint winners for the Gender Award for innovation in supporting females in cocoa growing.

Driving change

Consumer awareness and demand for ‘better’ chocolate is driving positive change in the industry. Initiatives like the Chocolate Scorecard play a crucial role in fostering transparency and accountability, says Be Slavery Free.

“Continued collaboration and engagement across stakeholders will be vital in driving progress towards a more sustainable and ethical chocolate industry.”

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