The producers of chocolate will gladly tell you: chocolate makes you happy. Strictly speaking this is true: chocolate is made from cocoa and cocoa contains the hormone phenyl ethylamine. When you are in love you also produce this hormone, it gives you a euphoric feeling. Indeed, eating chocolate makes you happy. However we cannot always say same of the industry...
The cocoa industry is dominated by a limited number of multinationals. They buy the cocoa from small farmers in third world countries. Often this is not done honestly and especially women are the victims: ‘They are paid poorly and reap little benefit from their work. They are also discriminated against’, said Farah Karimi from Oxfam Novib. But this charity is not taking this for granted: time for action!
With the campaign Behind the brands Oxfam Novib makes visible how well the 10 largest food companies score on sustainability and social policy. The promises are compared with the actual situation, and that works. Karimi: ‘People connect with brands. If consumers ask questions about the brand, the brand will take care of it.’ These are not mere empty words, because after a petition signed by more than 100,000 people, Nestlé and Mars have promised to improve the position of the women farming cocoa.
Change does not always happen under the influence of public opinion. Already in 1998 the Ghanaian company Divine was founded, the first fair trade company to be owned, for 45%, by the cocoa farmers. Within Divine 64,000 farmers from 1,100 villages have joined forces. The profit is partly invested in community facilities such as schools, sanitation and water pumps.
Also Tony’s Chocolonely is an inspiring example. This Dutch brand arose from dissatisfaction. In 2001 the major chocolate manufacturers promised only to sell products free from child labour by 2005. However, this 'slave-free chocolate' seemed an illusion: not one multinational kept their promise. They decided to take matters into their own hands and to bring slave-free products to the market. With success as Tony’s Chocolonely is an established brand now. Tony’s Chocolonely shows us: you can do anything you set your mind to.
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