In its efforts for sustainable sourcing of cocoa, Nestlé is spending 45 million Swiss francs a year, the company said and noted that its efforts were providing results in the form of progress being made in the reducing child labour in its supply chain in West Africa.
Nestle said that its aim was to source cocoa 100 per cent sustainably for its confectionary products by 2025. It also noted that over the last ten years, it has made serious efforts to tackle child labour and deforestation in cocoa and has spent close to 220 million francs for it.
Only about 15 per cent of the cocoa it sources in West Africa, where child labour is prevalent, is currently covered by the child labour monitoring and remediation system (CLMRS), a part of its sustainability sourcing scheme, of Nestle.
While the inclusion of a cocoa producing region in the company’s CLMRS program does not automatically mean that all child labour has been eliminated from the region, it certainly indicates that the company is taking measures to address or tackle the situation.
“We’re proud Nestle has made this commitment but (its) a daunting challenge to go from 15% to 100% in five years,” said Nick Weatherill, executive director of the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), an organisation working with governments and industry to eliminate child labour.
“We won’t solve (child labour) just by putting in place a due diligence system. Farmer poverty, access to education and many other issues need to (be addressed). We need governments on board,” he said.
The rising demands from customers about ethically sourced products is forcing a host of the largest chocolate makers such as Nestle, Mars Wrigley, Mondelez, Barry Callebautand Hershey’s to seriously take the issue and invest in sustainable sourcing programs.
However, according to analysts, there has so far been little impact on in addressing the widespread child labour and deforestation in West Africa by the sustainability programs by the companies that certify cocoa ingredients as ethically sourced. The unethical practices in cocoa production in West Africa have become a blotch on the image of chocolate worldwide.
There was a slight increase in the number of children working in the West African cocoa sector over a period of five years at about 2.1 million, claimed the Cocoa Barometer, a major report published in 2018 by international civil society groups.
Its latest report shows progress was possible, Nestle has said.
The company had monitored 78,580 children it monitored in West Africa in 2018 and found that 18,000 were engaged in child labour. The company claimed that within the course of the year, its sustainability program was able to reduce that number by 55 per cent.
Cocoa sourced from sustainable sources currently accounts for about 68 per cent of the cocoa in its confectionary products while just a bit less than 50 per cent of the total cocoa for all of its products is obtained from sustainable sources.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)