The Mother Jones’ article entitled “Bloody Valentine: Child Slavery in Ivory Coast’s Cocoa Fields” refers to the The Dark Side of the Chocolate, a documentary released in March 2010 about allegations of trafficking of children and child labor in the international chocolate industry.
While the article does not contain explicit allegations against Nestlé, we would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our commitments and report on our continuing efforts to tackle child labour in our supply chain.
Nestlé is committed to actions to tackle child labour, and our Supplier Code prohibits this in our supply chains.
Faced with cocoa industry challenges, Nestlé successfully launched the Nestlé Cocoa Plan in 2009 to improve productivity and cocoa farmers’ livelihoods, with the four main pillars:
Training farmers (19,000 in 2011);
Distributing cocoa plants (800,000 in 2011);
Partnerships: Launched partnerships in 2011 with the Fair Labor Association and World Cocoa Foundation, and continued and extended partnerships with UTZ CERTIFIED, and the International Federation of the Red Cross amongst others;
Supply chain: Nestlé Cocoa Plan coverage as percentage of our supply has increased each year, achieving 6% in 2011 and expected to be 11% in 2012.
Nestlé commitments and actions
Child labour has no place in our supply chain.
We oppose all forms of exploitation of children, and are firmly committed to actions to tackle the issue of child labour in agricultural supply chains, in line with our commitments in the Nestlé Corporate Business Principles.
This includes proactive, collaborative action through interventions targeting higher risk commodities and countries.
Nestlé believes the best way to address the issue is to take a holistic approach. Initiatives to improve labour and health & safety practices, and promote school attendance are part of the solution.
The Nestlé Supplier Code includes a strict prohibition on child labour (as well as non-negotiable minimum standards on business integrity, health & safety, environmental and labour standards). Suppliers with whom we deal directly are audited by an independent third party.
Living conditions in rural cocoa-farming communities are often basic, but through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan we will continue to work with a number of partners to improve access to education, water and sanitation.
Tackling the issue of child labour in the agricultural supply chain is a specific requirement of Nestlé’s Supplier Code, and in 2011 we started working with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) – a non-profit, multi-stakeholder association – to look together at how we can address this issue in our cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire.
We are also a founding participant of the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), which is working to end child labour practices and ensure that children in cocoa-growing communities are not exploited and have access to education, and we continue to work with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to help fund clean water and sanitation in schools in cocoa-growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire to a further 50 communities.
Working with the Fair Labor Association
On February 29, the Fair Labor Association Board of Directors approved Nestlé’s application to become a Participating Company. Nestlé is the first company in the food industry to partner with and join the FLA, following collaborations on special projects over the past several months to assess labor conditions and compliance risks throughout Nestlé’s supply chain of hazelnuts and cocoa.
As part of our Responsible Sourcing Programme, in 2011 we launched a pilot project with the FLA to assess the working conditions in the extended hazelnut supply chain in Turkey against the Nestlé Supplier Code, the FLA Code of Conduct, ILO Conventions and Turkish law. We support all recommendations put forward in the FLA report, following an independent and comprehensive on-site assessment. Together with them we have developed a multi-year action plan to integrate the recommendations into our sourcing strategy, supported by KPIs and timelines to track progress. We will provide regular updates on progress in implementing the plan.
Following the same model, last year we began a project in Côte d’Ivoire, where we buy most of our cocoa supplies. Building on our experience on hazelnuts in Turkey and our efforts under the Cocoa Plan, the FLA sent independent experts to Côte d’Ivoire. Where evidence of child labour is found, the FLA will identify root causes and advise Nestlé how to address them in sustainable and lasting ways. The results of the FLA’s assessment, which will be made public later this year, will guide future Nestlé operations.
Children’s education in Côte d'Ivoire
In addition to the collaboration with the FLA, last October Nestlé began a partnership programme with the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) aimed at improving the educational infrastructure for children in cocoa-supplying regions in Côte d'Ivoire – in turn helping to reduce the use of child labour.
Nestlé is investing $1.5m in the programme over four years, focusing on 20 communities in rural Côte d'Ivoire. The Nestlé investment will be leveraged by the resources and the activities of the four-year, $8 million USAID extension of the WCF ECHOES programme
Depending on initial assessment, the implementation of the programme is expected to include:
the construction of 40 new schools;
the provision of family support scholarships to pay for children’s education and enable women’s entrepreneurship;
agricultural and livelihood education, including literacy training;
establishing or refurbishing water and sanitation services for schools.
Intended to impact the lives of 16,000 people (10,000 children and young people, and 6,000 family and community members), the programme will make school attendance a more attractive and viable option for parents and children, thereby encouraging reductions in the worst forms of child labour.
The Nestlé Cocoa Plan
The Nestlé Cocoa Plan is driving forward the way we source cocoa globally. Through it, we are working with small-scale farmers to ensure the supply of high-quality, sustainably sourced cocoa, supporting community development and meeting certified ethical and environmental standards. We are:
investing CHF 110 million in cocoa plant science and sustainability initiatives from 2010-2019;
distributing 1 million high-yielding, disease-resistant cocoa plantlets each year from 2012, which helps to address the issue of declining quality and yields are linked to old and dying cocoa plants;
training 30,000 cocoa farmers on farming and post-harvest practices;
supporting other social projects in cocoa-growing areas.
In committing CHF 110 million to the Nestlé Cocoa Plan from 2010-2019, Nestlé’s investment will focus on plant science and sustainable production in Côte d’Ivoire and Ecuador (the world’s largest sources of cocoa and fine cocoa respectively). This investment builds on the CHF 60 million already invested in the preceding 15 years.
To help cocoa farmers to run profitable farms, respect the environment, have a good quality of life and give their children a better education, The Nestlé Cocoa Plan focuses on four key areas:
training farmers on agricultural best practice to increase their yields, reduce cocoa disease, adopt better agricultural farming practices and produce a better quality crop;
investing in plant research to propagate disease-resistant plantlets to improve the quality, quantity and sustainability of cocoa production;
improving the supply chain by buying from cooperatives and paying a premium for high-quality cocoa;
improving social conditions in cocoa-growing areas by working with partners to tackle child labour, improve education opportunities, and to improve water and sanitary conditions.
In 2011 we:
sourced 6% of our global cocoa supply via The Nestlé Cocoa Plan;
trained 19,115 cocoa farmers to improve productivity and sustainability;
distributed 824,000 higher-yielding, disease resistant-plantlets;
helped 10 of our partner cocoa co-operatives to achieve UTZ certification, with a further six expecting to achieve certification in early 2012;
launched UTZ CERTIFIED products on our top four brands in Canada and launched UTZ CERTIFIED KitKat in Europe;
launched The Nestlé Cocoa Plan in Indonesia;
began new collaborations with the Fair Labor Association, the World Cocoa Foundation and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).
The Cocoa Plan works with leading certification programmes UTZ CERTIFIED and Fairtrade with the aim of implementing a sustainable cocoa supply chain to benefit both farmers and consumers. Nestlé is a member of the UTZ CERTIFIED Good Inside Cocoa Program, which is aimed at promoting sustainability in mainstream cocoa production through independent certification of improved agricultural, social and environmental practices. Nestlé is committed to buying an increasing amount of certified beans in the coming years.