Nestlé, the largest food company in the world, launches a plan to combat child labor and other abuses in cocoa production, by paying farmers directly for certain efforts. For example, cocoa farmers can earn extra money if they send their children (up to 16 years old) to school, or if they use more sustainable harvesting methods. Nestlé announced this on Thursday.
This concerns amounts converted to 480 euros extra per year per cocoa farmer. After the first two years, this will be reduced to an extra EUR 240 per year.
The Swiss Nestlé owns chocolate brands such as Kitkat, Bros and Rolo and is one of the largest cocoa buyers in the world with a turnover of more than 81 billion euros. By 2030, the company aims to have invested a total of 1.3 billion Swiss francs (1.25 billion euros) in improving the conditions in cocoa cultivation, three times more than has been spent on this until now.
There are all kinds of major problems in the cocoa sector. Most of the cocoa comes from mostly small and very poor farmers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Child labor is used in almost half of Ghanaian and Ivorian farmers’ families in cocoa cultivation. from recent research from the University of Chicago. According to Nestlé, this is due to extreme poverty and poor living conditions in rural communities. In addition, according to Nestlé, the cocoa sector also faces ‘increasing climate risks’.
In addition to a reward for school-age children, farmers will be able to receive direct payments for things such as pruning cocoa trees (which increase yields) and planting ‘shade trees’ to protect against drought and heat.
A Nestlé spokesperson says that the investments in improving cocoa cultivation will not lead to price increases, because the intention is that the costs are “captured in the chain”. For example, through higher productivity.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of January 28, 2022