Do Chocolate Companies really use Child Labor? 5 Chocolate Brands that Don't.

I live by a code: If it’s a dessert that’s not chocolate, then what’s the point? I am indeed a bona fide chocolate lover, but I’m also passionate about ethical shopping and making sure that my chocolate addiction doesn’t come at the price of someone else’s freedom. Which makes the chocolate industry’s inability to get it together pretty frustrating. 

Major chocolate companies like Nestle, Hershey’s, and Mars have been called to task time and time again for the use of child labor and slavery in their supply chains. For years, these companies have pledged to eradicate this problem and for years they have come up short on their promises.

So, a short answer to, “do chocolate companies really use child labor?” is, sadly, an absolute yes. 

The reasons why, especially in our complex global economy, are a little more complex. Poverty in Western Africa often drives the need for children to work and support their families. These children are encouraged to lie about their ages (to make their work legal) and are not required to have their work documented in any way, so they spend their days in hard manual labor on cocoa farms instead of attending school, being with their families, or enjoying childhood.

Chocolate companies often do not know where exactly their supplies are coming from and eventually, the demand for cheap chocolate from consumers leads to these major corporations buying from the lowest bidder. 

Wow. That’s a lot of information. So what does it all mean? Do we have to stop buying chocolate?  

Fortunately, there’s no need to give up chocolate altogether (you can breathe your sigh of relief now). In fact, buying ethically-made chocolate can actually give an economic boost to the poverty-stricken areas where cocoa farming takes place! 

The answer is to find chocolate companies that are transparent, with ingredients that are fairly sourced and certified by a third-party. These chocolate brands are all around, and we’ve found five that you can buy from DoneGood approved shops! Chocolate that tastes amazing and that you can feel good about eating? Take me there!

Equal Exchange | Find at Global Gifts

Equal Exchange is kind of a giant in the fair chocolate industry—and for good reason! They offer a variety of chocolately treats, while prioritizing their passion for keeping their food fair. Equal Exchange is worker-owned, and Fair Trade and Green America certified. Global Gifts carries their amazing chocolate minis! Perfect for restocking your chocolate stash, filling an Easter basket, or filling up a gift bag!

$15 off $100 purchase with promo code DONEGOOD15

Five North Chocolate

Did you know that two-thirds of the world’s cacao comes from five degrees north of the equator in West Africa? While this area sadly remains the home to a lot of exploitation, including child and slave labor, Five North Chocolate wants to turn that narrative around. They use chocolate sourced from West Africa, but ensure they know where the chocolate is coming from and that their ingredients are fair trade certified. They also care about you as the consumer—Five North wants to make sure their chocolate products not only taste delicious, but are made with the best and highest-quality ingredients. 

Divine | Find at Global Gifts

A Christmas tradition in my family is that, instead of filling my stocking up with candy, someone will buy me the giant case of Divine milk chocolate—my chocolate stash for the whole year (or...most of it…). Seriously, I love Divine chocolate. And our amazing partner brand Global Gifts sells Divine chocolate flights with six mini bars of Divine’s bestsellers. Perfect for a gift...or for you if you just want to sample and, you know,
make sure Divine Chocolate is really for you.

$15 off $100 purchase with promo code DONEGOOD15

Theo | Find at Grounds for Change

Theo’s commitment to transparency, third-party verification, and stable pricing with their cocoa vendors means that they are looking out for everyone in the process—from farmers in their supply chain, to their US workers, to you the chocolate-lover. DoneGood approved brand Grounds for Change carries a variety of Theo’s chocolate bars—perfect to enjoy with one of their delicious cups of coffee.

20% off your first order with promo code DONEGOOD

Zotter | Find at Global Gifts

Ok, to be honest, I’ve never tried Zotter Chocolate before, but if you look at that picture above, you might be able to imagine why I’m drooling right now and adding it to my “to try” list. Doesn’t it look amazing? And of course, you know it does amazing things because Zotter Chocolates are 100% fair trade and organic. Global Gifts carries several of Zotter’s hand-scooped, filled chocolate bars, so browse around and find the right flavor for you (and try not to drool in the process). 

$15 off $100 purchase with promo code DONEGOOD15





Erin King
DoneGood Contributor

Writer, editor, and all-around language enthusiast who uses her love of words to help others.


1 comment

  • Kit

    Another great brand is Chocolonely! Super delicious

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