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Nestlé Investigates Cocoa Supply Chain for Child Labor

Criticism over chocolate production leads Nestlé to partner with the Fair Labor Association and take a good look at its own supply chain
 Nestlé Investigates Cocoa Supply Chain for Child Labor
 
 

Where does that chocolate you’re eating come from? How was it produced, and was it conscionable? It’s a question that’s been gaining a lot of traction lately as more consumers have started placing a higher priority on where their food comes from. There are organizations solely dedicated to tracking and preventing chocolate industry slavery around the world, and recent human rights conflicts within our own country have only further brought these issues to light. Aware of this growing concern, Nestlé has announced a partnership with the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a non-profit organization focused on helping companies improve their working conditions, to investigate its own cocoa supply chain and root out any instances of child labor, slavery or abuse.

According to a press release issued by Nestlé, the first phase of the project will involve the Fair Labor Association sending labor rights experts to Côte d’Ivoire in January to begin evaluating the company’s supply chain from start to finish, the results of which will reportedly be made public by the spring of 2012. The second phase will involve the FLA advising the company and other parties of interest like the Côte d’Ivoire government on what is going on, what the root causes of any child labor or abuse are, and how positive changes can be made to eliminate the problem. All of this is part of Nestlé’s more extensive ten-year Nestlé Cocoa Plan, in which the company has invested CHF 110 million in an attempt to help cocoa farmers improve their income, plant expertise, and social conditions over the next decade.  

 

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According to CorpComms magazine, Nestlé’s critics argue that that this new endeavor proves that the company has not been working hard enough in the past to combat negative cocoa production conditions – especially considering that it signed a cocoa protocol to end child labor ten years ago. Nestlé points out in its press release that it has already been working with organizations like UTZ and Fairtrade to ensure that it’s using cocoa from “responsible, sustainable sources” – but acknowledges that, with such a large-scale business and a complex supply chain, it can be difficult to establish where all of its cocoa comes from and is looking to extra help from the FLA in order to make more significant changes.

“Child labour has no place in our supply chain,” said Nestlé’s Executive Vice President for Operations José Lopez. “We cannot solve the problem on our own, 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.” 



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