The Bitter of Sourcing Sweets
Chocolate might as well be its own food group considering the amount that we as Americans consume. The Infusions Team here at Sira Naturals has high standards when it comes to chocolate, and only work with premium chocolate in their products. But as you’re enjoying your various indulgent desserts, have you ever stopped to think, “Where did my chocolate come from?” It’s not a simple answer and it’s not a pretty one. International chocolate production involves some not-so-sweet practices. Recent articles, like this one from The Washington Post: Cocoa's Child Laborers, help illuminate the complex and unfortunate realities of cocoa farming.
The majority of world cocoa production takes place along small farm communities on the coast of West Africa. Many of these smaller farms pool their supplies together to become farm co-ops to larger buyers. Unfortunately, many of these farms rely on child labor in some form or another. Some of the world’s biggest chocolate producers promised to eradicate the use of child labor in their production supply chains decades ago, but it’s a much more complex issue to solve than anyone anticipated. As a result, most chocolate bars you’ve purchased in the United States are likely the products of child labor.
Why can’t chocolate companies simply stop buying cocoa from the farms that use child labor? The co-op style of chocolate sourcing and trading from countless small farming groups make it hard to identify any specific source of cocoa. While incremental change is being made to confirm the source of production, the goal of eradicating child labor becomes increasingly difficult due to the underlying root cause of poverty in the region.
All in all, with slow progress being made to end child-labor from large chocolatiers, the consumer must look to smaller producers who recognize their role in this fight and are actively working towards a supply chain with integrity.
Sleep Better at Night with Sira’s Infused Chocolate Bars:
Sira had a big choice to make. Understanding the impact that our choice of chocolate supplier could have, we became all the more selective when making our pick. We chose a Belgian chocolate producer that emphasizes the importance of sustainability in its supply chain: Callebaut.
Callebaut is committed to eradicating child labor from its supply chain by 2025. Like most chocolate producers, the majority of their cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast. They helped form and fund “Cocoa Horizons Foundation”, which builds and repairs schools, provides healthcare, and provides professional training in cocoa farming communities along the coast of West Africa. Their mission is to “improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their communities through the promotion of sustainable, entrepreneurial farming, improved productivity, and community development, which protect nature and children”.
These efforts serve to address the root causes of poverty which often drive children to labor in these small farming communities. You can learn more about Callebaut’s commitment to ending child labor here. While the issue of child labor in cocoa production continues to persist, producers like ourselves have a responsibility to the farmers and consumers to think about the impact they have. Sira aims to make it a positive one. Rest assured, that our Infused Belgian Chocolate Bar is another reflection of our commitment to sustainability and integrity.