But her biggest challenge was the lack of access to land, which would allow them to grow cocoa and other cash crops and improve their lives. “What better way to bring the farmer to the table than to give them some control on the certification scheme?” Nyong’o says. With businesses and consumers also feeling the economic toll of Covid-19, some may be tempted to value price over justice in the supermarket, especially when a lack of corporate transparency makes it difficult for people to know which sustainability claims to believe. Our progress. The suit alleges the company used seafood ingredients produced by slave labor in Southeast Asia. "Research has found women are engaged in activities that enhance cocoa yields and quality, including early plant care and post-harvest fermentation and drying," its latest progress report says. “We can see that there are a large number of people who really care about the food that they eat. “Self-certification doesn’t work. documentation review of The Nestlé Cocoa Plan and at the suppliers, cooperative and farm level; and; observations in the villages and camps. Through Nestle's Cocoa Plan, she attended training sessions on leadership, agricultural business and gender equality. Women get paid far less," spokeswoman Kelly Dent says. In a statement, the corporation said it aimed to ‘harmonise’ its cocoa sourcing schemes through its own Nestlé Cocoa Plan by 2025, and that it will continue to pay financial assistance to farmers. The corporation announced it would instead use Rainforest Alliance certification under its own Nestlé Cocoa Plan from October, with the ultimate aim to shift all their products to this scheme. Nestlé is facing criticism for using chocolate and seafood harvested by children and slaves. Women are marginalised in the cocoa supply chain and often unrecognised and underpaid. Doing business for good, they believe, means buying from other social enterprises and ethical suppliers. While there are signs of progress, the sheer number of producers – there are an estimated 2 million small-scale cocoa farms in Ivory Coast – mean the companies are in it for the long haul. Dr Nyagoy Nyong’o, director of Fairtrade Africa, which builds a network of producers in Africa and supports them in accessing the Fairtrade market, says that the KitKat decision will cause farmers in the Ivory Coast, Fiji and Malawi to lose nearly £2m in 'Fairtrade premium'. So if small producers are in critical need of support, why did Nestlé choose to leave? At a time when Covid-19 makes international trade particularly unstable and unpredictable, farmers have used the premium to protect themselves and their community from the risks of the pandemic, both health and economic. In 2009 we launched the Nestlé Cocoa Plan recognising the challenges faced by cocoa farmers. The Cocoa Plan is Nestlé’s way of helping to tackle key issues facing cocoa farmers, their families and communities to create a better future for cocoa farming. “Rumours of our imminent demise are certainly overstated,” he says. Cadbury owner Mondelez says through its Cocoa Life program, it is promoting gender equality by recognising women as producers and providing better access to credit and training in skills such as felling trees and pruning. “This task of ethical consumption shouldn’t be on the consumer. Nestlé Cocoa Plan delivers more sustainable cocoa. Women tend high-yielding cocoa plantlings at Agathe Vanie's co-operative nursery in Divo. Celia Hodson and her daughters have just launched Hey Girls, a “buy one give one” social enterprise to tackle period poverty. Programme description. This year, Nestlé donated 10m Swiss francs [£81.9m] to the Red Cross for Covid-19 work, “including cocoa farming communities”. So if small producers are in critical need of support, why did Nestlé choose to leave? The shift to an own-brand scheme echoes recent predictions of a proliferation of new own-brand sustainability labels replacing the current global certifications. Header image by Abi Schreider on Unsplash. In 2013, we purchased 62 299 tonnes through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, rolled out child labour monitoring and remediation at 8 co-ops, built or refurbished 13 schools and trained 33 885 cocoa farmers (2012: 46 000 tonnes, 2 co-ops, 13 schools, 27 000 farmers). Thanks for reading our stories. Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. She has covered state politics, health and consumer affairs. On Sunday, Nestlé said "forced labor has no place in our supply chain" in response to a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of U.S. cat food buyers. This task of ethical consumption shouldn’t be on the consumer. Last year, a report by the Fair Labor Association found four children under 15 working at some of the 200 farms in the Ivory Coast that supply Nestlé with cocoa. Mondelez, Nestle and Mars control 40 per cent of the world's chocolate market, according to Oxfam. Fairtrade chocolate boss Sophi Tranchell steps down after 20 years building the brand, as long-standing manufacturing partner buys majority share from co-op farmers. All rights reserved. We want to help further improve the lives of cocoa farmers through a number of different initiatives and by increasing our overall investment in sustainable cocoa. We cannot rely on income from one pocket," she said. However, Fairtrade isn’t the only mark of a fairly traded product. According to some critics, Nestle’s chocolate production is an ugly affair, littered with allegations of malfeasance. It's for the wellbeing of the family. Jeanne Kindo, wearing the orange scarf, inspects dried cocoa beans.Credit:Esther Han. Nestlé's move comes amid heightened criticism of the Switzerland-based company for its alleged use of child and slave labor. In 2001, Nestlé faced huge criticism for purchasing cocoa from the Ivory Coast and Ghana suppliers, which may have been produced using child slaves. “It’s up to [all] businesses, not just social impact companies, to change,” says Ben Greensmith, UK country manager at Tony’s Chocolonely, a Dutch confectionery company that campaigns to make all chocolate 100% slave-free. You'll also be buying social: Pioneers Post is a social enterprise itself, reinvesting all our profits into helping you do good business, better. Is it the beginning of the end of the well-known Fairtrade mark? Women are marginalised in the cocoa supply chain and often unrecognised and underpaid.Credit:Esther Han. Women cocoa farmers struggle with less pay, land and training compared with men. Esther Han is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald. The Nestlé Cocoa Plan. "I did things randomly, with no knowledge behind it," she said in French, her head wrapped in a bright-orange scarf. Although Nestlé’s decision came at an unfortunate time, he points to the overwhelming public support for Fairtrade in response to the decision, including celebrities speaking out and petitions to reverse the move, on top of climbing public sales and donations to Fairtrade each year. "Promoting a cultural shift to ensure gender equality in the cocoa-chocolate value chain is central to guaranteeing future resilience of supply and ensuring future generations find the occupation attractive.". “There are companies, and then there are ‘antisocial’ companies.”, While transparency from corporations may be one vital element, surely it’s also crucial to give the farmers a say in their future? “Businesses and consumers really have to reassess what Fairtrade has argued for many years, about how poverty, human rights, environmental damage are linked to the food that they buy.”, This crisis has shown us how fragile our food supply chains are. Cargill, a global trader, says despite the number of certified Ivorian female farmers providing cocoa to Nestle quadrupled since 2011-12 to 406, they represented only 4 per cent of certified farmers. Last year, a report by the Fair Labor Association found four children under 15 working at some of the 200 farms in the Ivory Coast that supply Nestlé with cocoa. The companies have good analysis, but we need them to implement strong action plans. In the ‘challenges’ the Nestlé site lists in implementing its Cocoa Plan, it states: “How do we help farmers to achieve a living income? Nestlé was an early mover in the shared value space and hosts a global forum, the Creating Shared Value Global Forum. The writer travelled to Ivory Coast as a guest of Nestle. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote. A Nestlé spokesperson told Pioneers Post this month that both the mission of the Rainforest Alliance and its Nestlé Cocoa Plan demonstrated “that we want to help further improve the lives of cocoa farmers through a number of different initiatives and by increasing our overall investment in sustainable cocoa”.