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Tony’s Chocolonely wades in as rival Mondelez battles ‘child labor’ accusations

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By Hannah Bowler | Journalist

April 6, 2022 | 4 min read

Tony’s Chocolonely has accused rival chocolate maker Mondelez of “directly driving” farmers to use child labor and demanded “less talk more action” from the brand following a Channel 4 Dispatches exposé of Cadbury’s supply chain.

On Monday (April 4) the undercover investigation, Cadbury Exposed: Dispatches, revealed children as young as 10 have been working in illegal conditions on farms that supply Cadbury’s ethical farming scheme Cocoa Life.

Cocoa Life was set up by Cadbury in 2012 to increase transparency between consumers and farmers, respect human rights and promote ‘self-sustainability.’

Tony's Chocolonely weighs in on Cadbury child labour expose

Tony’s Chocolonely weighs in on Cadbury child labor exposé / Tony's Chocolonely

Cadbury’s chocolate claims it is 100% slave free.

But evidence in the report revealed that Cocoa Life farmers earn less than £2 a day and so can’t afford adult workers.

In social media posts, Tony’s accused Mondelez of ignoring the widespread use of child labor on its farms. It also said the child labor monitoring and remediation system (CLMRS) Mondelez uses only covers 28% of its supply chain – “meaning the documentary only showed a fraction of what’s really going on.”

“Don’t kid yourself about child labor Cadbury. The first step in eradicating child labor from your supply chain is acknowledging it’s there,” Tony’s said.

In response to the report, Mondelez “strongly refutes any allegation that Mondelez benefits from child labor, which we have relentlessly taken a stand against.”

The company reaffirmed that it “prohibits child labor in our operations and [has] been making significant efforts through our Cocoa Life program to improve the protection of children in communities where we source cocoa.”

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Mondelez insisted that “no amount of child labor in the cocoa supply chain should be acceptable.”

Tony’s decision to wade in on the exposé fallout came after it suffered its own PR problems over slave-free chocolate claims.

In February 2021 Tony’s was taken off the ‘Slave Free Chocolate’ list. This hit headlines – not least because of the marketing budget invested in making Tony’s the face of ethical, slave-free chocolate.

The company defended itself by claiming the issue lay with its chocolate producer Barry Callebaut, not Tony’s.

However, it has decided not to guarantee its chocolate is 100% slave free and been open that 3.9% of its supply chain still uses child labor compared with an industry average of 46.5%.

“While we are doing everything we can to prevent slavery and child labor, we are also realistic. Firstly, we cannot be there to monitor the cocoa plantations 24/7, and we don’t believe in that kind of monitoring,” Tony’s has previously said.

To reduce illegal labor in its supply chain, Tony’s has increased its cocoa rates, paying 22% more than the farmgate price for coca beans compared to Cadbury’s 1.5%, according to Tony’s data.

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