Do Chocolate Companies really use Child Labor? 3 Chocolate Brands that Don't — Updated for 2023
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 got three that you can buy on DoneGood.
Before we dig into the list, if you like learning about brands that are changing the way the world does business, want to be the first to know about new arrivals on DoneGood, and get exclusive discounts delivered right to your inbox, sign up for email from DoneGood below. We'll start you off with over a dozen ways to save on ethically-made products!
Now, let's get into chocolate that tastes amazing and that you can feel good about eating!
Grace Farms Foods
Writer, editor, and all-around language enthusiast who uses her love of words to help others.
Thanks for this helpful updated blog. What about Alter Eco? They’ve been one of our favs for years!
Tony’s Chocolonely makes excellent chocolate as well, and I’m pretty sure they are fair trade.
The only way we will be able to truly eliminate poverty and stop wealthy Western countries from preying on “developing” countries is by abolishing capitalism. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a conscience to develop in the economic system that brought us chattel slavery, colonialism, and climate change.
To reply to recent comments on this blog:
1. We currently don’t sell any chocolate chips on our site (hopefully one day!). For now, you can find fair trade chocolate chips at most grocery stores around you, just look for the fair trade logo. A quick web search for “fair trade chocolate chips” should also find you some good results! Just be sure to check for a certification!
2. We’re not sure about See’s chocolate. Generally, if the brand/store does not make it obvious that their ingredients are certified or where they are from, they probably do not know themselves. This kind of untraceability in a brand’s supply chain leaves it highly susceptible to use of child labor. Better to buy from brands that are certified for ethical labor with a Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance certification.
What do you know about See’s Candy? What is their chocolate source?
You have listed chocolate bars, but I make chocolate chip cookies regularly. Do you sell chocolate chips where the chocolate is not harvested by children?
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