We Australians do love our chocolate, the fact that we consume approximately $3 billion of it each year proves this. With Easter just around the corner, chocolate retailers get ready with their tempting selections of bunnies, eggs and chocolate filled hampers ready for the spike in sales.
However, what a lot of people don’t realise is behind the pretty Easter packaging and foil wrapping there’s actually a bleak darker side to it. Around 70% of the chocolate we consume comes from West Africa, where it’s estimated that over 2 million children and young people under the age of 18 work as labourers in cocoa harvesting. Some of these children are trafficked and many are working in extremely harmful situations. The cocoa they produce ends up in the chocolate that we eat.
The good news is that in recent years consumers are waking up and there has been an increase in demand of sustainable and ethical production methods. This has resulted in growth of certified chocolate products – including ethical Easter eggs.
Some things to look out for when searching for ethical Easter eggs are the certifications they hold. The three primary certification bodies available in Australia are Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade and UTZ Certified.
Rainforest Alliance products contain ingredients sourced from certified forests or farms which are managed by rigorous environmental, social and economic criteria. According to the organisation, their criteria is designed to: safeguard soils and waterways; protect workers, their families and local communities; conserve wildlife; and increase livelihoods in order to achieve long term sustainability.
Fairtrade products aim to ensure that working communities in the developing world have decent working conditions, better prices and local sustainability. By ensuring companies pay sustainable prices, Fairtrade’s goal is to help eradicate the injustices of conventional trade which traditionally discriminates against the weakest and poorest producers.
UTZ Certified products are grown in accordance with its Code of Conduct, which has guidelines for sustainable farming methods. It aims to educate farmers to help them grown better crops, improve working conditions and take better care of their children and the environment. To ensure compliance with the Code, all producers receive a regular audit from independent auditors. Approved farmers are able to sell their products as UTZ Certified, and all sales are recorded in the UTZ Certified Traceability system.
How do you know which brands are more ethical?
By ensuring you buy your Easter eggs this year certified by Fairtrade, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance, you know you are doing your bit to support ethical cocoa production. Some places to buy from are:
Aldi’s UTZ Certified Dairy Fine, Choceur, Moser Roth and Specially selected Easter chocolate ranges.
Chocolatier Australia’s Fairtrade milk and dark chocolate 100g eggs, available through Coles, Woolworths, David Jones and other chocolate suppliers.
Coles has a range of branded UTZ, Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certified Easter chocolates.
The Haigh’s chocolate made Easter egg range is UTZ Certified.
Devine chocolate eggs and bunnies are Fairtrade certified and are available through IGA, and other selected stores and online.
Some tips for ethical chocolate buying all year round are:
Only buy chocolate with Fairtrade, UTZ or rainforest Alliance certification on the packaging. Ethical certification continues to be the most credible assurance against unsustainable, exploitative practices and forced labour.
Ask chocolate companies to commit to 100% ethically sourced cocoa by 2020, the date set by Stop the traffic, Baptist World Aid Australia and World vision Australia in their push to improve conditions in cocoa production. Companies listen to their customers and we have a loud voice if we choose to use it, so speak up, vote with your dollar.
Shift consumer demand by asking retailers to stock more certified products. This will also make it easier to purchase ethical products and encourage more people to do so.