Chocolate Companies Air Their Comments on Slavery in Ivory Coast

McClatchy NewspapersJune 24, 2001 

Here's what companies involved in chocolate production had to say about young slaves being used on farms in Ivory Coast, world's largest grower of cocoa beans. Though a number of the companies use Ivory Coast cocoa, there is no way to know if the cocoa they buy came from farms that use slaves.

TRADE ASSOCIATION -- Chocolate Manufacturers Association, Vienna, Va.

WHOM IT REPRESENTS-- American chocolate makers.

RESPONSE -- Since Knight Ridder began asking about slavery in early May, the association's position has evolved. Officials first said they were not aware of slavery in cocoa production in Ivory Coast. Then they echoed the position of Ivory Coast government officials that the practice was small and confined to foreign-owned farms in Ivory Coast.

In recent weeks, the association has decided to expand a farming program for Ivory Coast farmers to include education on "the importance of children." And in early June, the board voted to allocate money to survey Ivory Coast farms to determine the extent of child slavery there. "Yes, indeed, I think there is a problem," Gary Guittard, chairman of the association and president of Guittard Chocolate Co. of Burlingame, Calif., said in early June. "How extensive it is in cocoa, I really don't have any idea."

The survey is an important first step, he said. "I'm very hopeful that the very fact that people are going out into the bush and looking at this stuff is going to change it. I just think that in itself will change it."

COMPANY -- Hershey Foods Corp., Hershey, Pa.

ROLE -- No. 1 chocolate manufacturer in the United States; makes Hershey's Milk Chocolate, Reese's, Hershey's Almond Joy, York peppermint pattie, Whoppers and Rolo candies. Also processes cocoa. Would not say if it uses cocoa from Ivory Coast.

RESPONSE -- Is working with the Chocolate Manufacturers Association to address the issue. Will allocate money and personnel for the association's investigation.

"Issues like this are extremely important to us," said John C. Long, vice president of corporate communications. "This is a very complex issue without any solution that is quick and easy."

COMPANY -- Mars Inc. of McLean, Va.

ROLE -- No. 2 chocolate manufacturer in the United States; makes M&Ms, Mars, Twix, Dove, Snickers and Milky Way candies. Also processes cocoa. Uses cocoa from Ivory Coast.

RESPONSE -- Did not respond to questions or requests for comment. A Knight Ridder reporter saw bags of Ivory Coast cocoa beans being shipped to a Mars facility in Pennsylvania.

COMPANY -- Russell Stover Candies of Kansas City, Mo.

ROLE -- No. 3 chocolate manufacturer in the United States; makes Russell Stover, Whitman's and Pangburn's candies. Buys from suppliers who use cocoa from Ivory Coast.

RESPONSE -- Tom Ward, company president, said its supplier contracts prohibit the use of child labor to produce any ingredients or materials.

Ward said child slavery "is just not acceptable" and that he might hold his supplier legally liable for delivering tainted goods. "I have a reputation to maintain," he said.

COMPANY -- Nestle USA of Glendale, Calif.

ROLE -- Chocolate manufacturer; makes Nestle Crunch, Kit Kat, Smarties, Baci, After Eight, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, NesQuik and Carnation drinks. Supplies chocolate to other manufacturers and small confectioners under the brand Peter's Chocolate. Also processes cocoa. Uses cocoa from Ivory Coast, has a warehouse in Daloa, Ivory Coast, and is a big presence in that country.

RESPONSE -- Did not respond to questions or requests for comment. A Knight Ridder reporter saw bags of Ivory Coast cocoa beans labeled for shipment to Nestle.

COMPANY -- Archer Daniels Midland of Decatur, Ill. ROLE -- The world's leading grinder and processor of cocoa beans ships directly from Ivory Coast to plants in the United States and Europe. Sells under its own name and under the Ambrosia, De Zaan and Merckens brand names. It processes cocoa beans to make chocolate, cocoa powder and cocoa liquor and then sells them to chocolate manufacturers and food processors large and small around the globe.

RESPONSE -- Is working through its trade associations on child slavery issues.

"I think that is an abhorrent practice that we find objectionable," said ADM spokesman Larry Cunningham.

The company often works directly with farmers to streamline its supply chain, bypassing middlemen in an effort to direct more profit to the farmers and reduce the temptation to use slave labor.

COMPANY -- Cargill of Minneapolis.

ROLE -- One of the top five global processors of cocoa beans; ships directly from Ivory Coast to plants in the United States and Europe. Sells under its own name and under the brand Wilbur Chocolates Co. It processes cocoa beans to make chocolate, cocoa powder and cocoa liquor and then sells them to chocolate manufacturers and food processors large and small around the globe.

RESPONSE--Directed all questions to the European Cocoa Association, of which it is a member.

COMPANY -- Barry Callebaut of Montreal; Swedesboro, N.J.; St. Albans, Vt.; and Zurich, Switzerland (where it's headquartered).

ROLE -- One of the top five processors of cocoa beans. Supplies cocoa and chocolate to manufacturers such as Godiva as well as smaller manufacturers throughout the country. Buys cocoa beans from Ivory Coast and has processing facilities there.

RESPONSE -- The company's director of corporate quality, Willy Geraerts, said he could not guarantee to his customers that its cocoa beans were not harvested by slave children.

"When the cocoa comes to us, it is such a long chain, and before it gets to us, controlled by middlemen along the way. I don't think that any company today . . . can give this guarantee," he said. "What we don't control we cannot guarantee."

Barry Callebaut is working with its trade group, the European Cocoa Association, to study the problem and find a solution.

COMPANY -- Blommer Chocolate Co. of East Greenville, Pa., Chicago (where it's headquartered) and San Francisco.

ROLE -- One of the top five American processors of cocoa beans. Supplies cocoa and chocolate to manufacturers such as Hershey, Mars and Nestle, as well as smaller manufacturers throughout the country. Could not be determined if it uses Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE -- A company official, who did not want his name used, would not answer questions about slavery or Blommer's source of cocoa.

TRADE ASSOCIATION -- European Cocoa Association, Brussels, Belgium.

WHOM IT REPRESENTS -- Roughly 75 percent of the European chocolate processors, manufacturers and traders. Some American firms, such as Cargill, also have joined.

RESPONSE -- Association Secretary-General Robert Zehnder said the industry is concerned that the slavery issue may ignite a consumer boycott of cocoa and chocolate products. In response to news reports and public pressure in Europe, the association is pushing for an investigation of the problem and what it can do to combat it.

It's also pressing the Ivorian government to unite small farms into small cooperatives, perhaps cutting out middlemen and ensuring more money for farmers.

TRADE ASSOCIATION -- CAOBISCO, Brussels, Belgium.

WHOM IT REPRESENTS -- European Union trade association for manufacturers of finished chocolate, confections and biscuit products.

RESPONSE -- "I don't mind paying more to the right people," said David Zimmer, CAOBISCO's secretary general.

"The industry has no problem about paying more for the cocoa as long as we can get quality and sustainability. If it means you build another safeguard, then build it in."

CAOBISCO is working with the other European trade groups to study the problem and find a solution, he said.

TRADE ASSOCIATION -- Cocoa Merchants' Association of America, New York. WHOM IT REPRESENTS -- Buyers, traders and cocoa speculators. RESPONSE -- "It would not be appropriate for the association's board of directors to comment on cocoa companies," said Thomas P. Hogan, chairman.

COMPANY -- Cadbury Schweppes PLC of London.

ROLE -- Chocolate manufacturer. Makes Cadbury chocolate bars, Cadbury Eggs.

RESPONSE -- Does not buy cocoa from Ivory Coast. Has a long-standing human rights policy prohibiting the use of forced labor, especially for children. Concentrated its purchases of chocolate in Ghana a century ago after discovering a receipt for slaves in the then-Portuguese colony of Sao Tome, an island off the west coast of Africa where it was then doing business.

COMPANY -- Lindt & Sprungli (USA) Inc. of Stratham, N.H.

ROLE -- Chocolate manufacturer; makes Lindor Truffles. Parent company of San Francisco-based Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. Buys cocoa from Ivory Coast.

RESPONSE -- Supports the European Cocoa Association's efforts to investigate the extent of the problem and develop remedies with Ivory Coast.

Lindt spokeswoman Sylvia Kalin said the company primarily uses Caribbean cocoa and some from Ivory Coast. She did not know the source of Ghirardelli's cocoa, and no one from that division is permitted to speak to the news media.

COMPANY -- Godiva, a division of Campbell Soup Co., of Camden, N.J.

ROLE -- Makes luxury chocolates. Buys from suppliers that use cocoa from Ivory Coast.

RESPONSE -- "We do not raise cocoa firsthand," said John Faulkner, spokesman for Godiva. "We have a long-standing policy to ensure that our supplies are in compliance with labor laws and regulations. Any supplier that is not in compliance would need to change their practices."

Godiva is working with the Chocolate Manufacturers Association to investigate the problem in Ivory Coast.

"We do not condone slave labor in the Ivory Coast or anywhere else."

COMPANY -- World's Finest Chocolate of Chicago.

ROLE -- Makes chocolates used in school fund-raisers. Uses Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE "If that labor practice is going on, I think that is a huge concern . . . to us as a company and to our industry," said Edmond S. Opler, corporate vice president for World's Finest Chocolate.

Opler cautioned that "we have to take steps to make sure that is the case." He said his company supports the Chocolate Manufacturers Association's efforts to survey Ivorian cocoa farms' labor practices.

COMPANY -- Archibald Candy Co. of Chicago.

ROLE -- Makes chocolates, including Fannie May, Fannie Farmer, Laura Secord and Sweet Factory brands. Would not say if it buys chocolate made from Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE -- Is working with the Chocolate Manufacturers Association to investigate child slavery in Ivory Coast, according to Dome Communications Inc., its public relations firm.

COMPANY -- Maxfield Candy of Salt Lake City.

ROLE Chocolate manufacturer; supplier of chocolate for Mrs. Fields Cookies. Buys from suppliers that use Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE Terry Mitchell, president of Maxfield, said he was upset to hear that child slavery is used in the production of cocoa. He said he would be willing to change suppliers if companies cannot assure him that his chocolate is free of child slavery.

"We don't want to be a part of something like that even in a small way," he said. "It flies in the face of everything we stand for."

COMPANY -- Brach's Confections Inc. of Chattanooga, Tenn.

ROLE -- Makes chocolates and candies under the brands Brach and Brock. Could not be determined if it uses Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE -- Did not respond to questions or requests for comment.

COMPANY -- See's Candies Inc. of San Francisco.

ROLE -- Makes chocolates and candies. Could not be determined if it uses Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE -- Asked for questions to be sent by e-mail, then did not respond to them.

COMPANY --Ben and Jerry's Homemade Inc. of South Burlington, Vt., a division of Unilever N.V.

ROLE -- Gourmet ice cream manufacturer, including a wide variety of chocolate-based flavors. Could not be determined if it uses Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE -- Did not respond to questions or requests for comment.

COMPANY -- Sara Lee Corp. of Chicago.

ROLE -- No. 1 frozen baked-goods manufacturer uses cocoa and chocolate in its products. Could not be determined if it uses Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE -- Did not respond to questions or requests for comment on cocoa. The company stopped buying coffee beans from Ivory Coast five years ago.

"We made a decision that it was not an area of the world we wanted to do business with, based on some of the practices that we are learning more about," said Sylvia Wulf, vice president of marketing for Sara Lee's coffee and tea division.

COMPANY--General Mills of Minneapolis.

ROLE -- Uses cocoa and chocolate in its baking, snack and breakfast products. Brands include Cocoa Puffs, Count Chocula, Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs, Betty Crocker, SuperMoist baking products, Supreme brownies. Could not be determined if it uses Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE -- Did not respond to questions or requests for comment.

COMPANY -- Aurora Foods of St. Louis

ROLE -- Uses cocoa and chocolate in its baking products. Brands include Duncan Hines, Mrs. Butterworth's and Mrs. Paul's. Could not be determined if it uses Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE -- Did not respond to questions or requests for comment.

COMPANY -- Kraft Foods Inc., a division of Philip Morris, of Northfield, Ill.

ROLE -- Uses cocoa and chocolate in its baking, snack and breakfast products. Brands include JELL-O and Cocoa Pebbles. Its Nabisco division makes Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies. Also processes cocoa. Could not be determined if it uses Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE -- No comment.

COMPANY -- Kellogg Co. of Battle Creek, Mich.

ROLE -- Uses cocoa and chocolate in its baking, snack and breakfast products. Brands include Pop-Tarts, Cocoa Krispies, Keebler, Chips Deluxe, Rice Krispies Treats.

RESPONSE -- Issued a statement saying: "Child and slave labor are deplorable, and we totally support their eradication. We are not aware of receiving any ingredients produced under these conditions."

COMPANY --The Quaker Oats Co. of Chicago

ROLE -- Uses cocoa and chocolate in its snacks and breakfast products. Brands include Quaker Chewy Granola Bars and snack bars made with granola and Nestle Baby Ruth, Nestle Butterfinger and Nestle Crunch candy pieces. Could not be determined if it uses Ivory Coast cocoa.

RESPONSE -- Did not respond to questions or requests for comment.

Researcher Tish Wells contributed to this report.

Here are the mailing addresses and Web sites, where available, of cocoa and chocolate companies and their trade organizations, and organizations involved in the issue of child slavery in Ivory Coast.

NONGOVERNMENT GROUPS THAT WORK ON CHILD SLAVERY

Anti-Slavery International

Thomas Clarkson House, The Stableyard, Broomgrove Road, London, SW9 9TL England

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7501 8920

http://www.antislavery.org

Save the Children Canada

4141 Yonge St., Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario M2P 2A8

Tel: (416) 221-5501 or (800) 668-5036

http://www.savethechildren.ca/en/index.html

COCOA AND CHOCOLATE COMPANIES AND TRADE GROUPS

National Confectioners Association/Chocolate Manufacturers Association

8320 Old Courthouse Road, Suite 300, Vienna, Va. 22182

Tel: (703) 790-5011

http://www.eCandy.com/

Cocoa Merchants' Association of America Inc.

26 Broadway, Suite 707, New York, N.Y. 10004-1703

Tel: (212) 363-7335

http://www.cocoamerchants.com/

International Cocoa Organization 22 Berners St., London, W1P 3DB England

Tel: (44) (020) 7637-3211

http://www.icco.org/

ADM Cocoa

12500 W. Carmen Ave. Milwaukee, Wis. 53225

Tel: (414) 358-5700

http://food.admworld.com/cocoa/

Cargill Corp.

Cargill Office Center, P.O. Box 9300, Minneapolis, Minn. 55440-9300

Tel: (952) 742-7575

http://www.cargill.com/

Barry Callebaut

400 Industrial Park Rd., St. Albans, Vt. 05478-1875

Tel: (802) 524-9711

http://www.barry-callebaut.com/

Blommer Chocolate Co.

600 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, Ill.

Tel: (800) 621-1606

http://www.blommer.com/

Guittard Chocolate Co.

10 Guittard Road, Burlingame, Calif. 94010

Tel: (800) 468-2462

http://www.guittard.com/home.htm

Hershey Foods Corp.

100 Crystal A Drive, Hershey Pa., 17033

Tel. (717) 534-6799

http://www.hersheys.com/index.shtml/

Mars Inc.

6885 Elm St., McLean, Va., 22101

Tel: (703) 821-4900

http://www.mars.com/

World's Finest Chocolate Inc.

4801 S. Lawndale, Chicago, Ill. 60632-3062

Tel: (773) 579-6423

http://www.worldsfinestchocolate.com/

Compiled by researcher Tish Wells and Sumana Chatterjee

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