Monday, January 22, 2007

Nestlé, transparency and child slavery in Ivory Coast

Here's a fun thing to try.

Visit the Nestlé global website

There, on the front page, is a featured story about "Global accountability - Nestlé rates positively". This may very soon disappear as Nestlé's PR spin is turning into another PR disaster.

As I wrote last week, Nestlé's portrayal of its profile in the One World Trust Global Accountability Report 2006 is partial to the point of dishonest. See

However, Nestlé has, quite properly, put a link to the One World Trust website. The page it links to gives an overview of the report and links to pages on each of the organisations profiled. Click the Nestlé link and there is a brief introduction and then space for comments. I have left a comment linking to documentary evidence of Nestlé systematic violation of the marketing requirements for baby foods and exposés of some of the reports Nestlé hypes as examples of its accountability and transparency.

There is also a comment from Bama Athreya of the International Labor Rights Fund, a US group that has taken Nestlé to court over its failure to act over reports of child slavery in its cocoa supply chain. For an interview with Bama Athreya and further information see our website:

Here is ILRF's view:

Nestle was exposed in 2001 for its complicity in the trafficking of West African children for cocoa harvesting. Nearly half the world's cocoa originates from Ivory Coast, and international organizations have estimated that several thousand children have been trafficked from neighboring countries and forced to harvest cocoa. We have repeatedly requested that Nestle take responsibility for its cocoa supply chain in Ivory Coast and are still waiting for clarification on what the company has done to take the few simple, basic steps that we and others requested years ago. These include:

*Provide transparency of your supply chain. The farmers know which multinationals are buying their cocoa- why, then, is it so hard for the multinationals to identify which farmers are selling to them?

*Create contracts with the farmers. Nestle can be assured farmers will do the right thing if the farmers can be assured that Nestle will honor its arrangements with them.

*Support the re-establishment of an International Cocoa Agreement. West African farmers have no leverage nor ability to bargain but Nestle and other chocolate companies are making more profit than ever. Why not re-establish the commodity agreement to provide poor farmers with some basic guarantee of a stable world price?

*Buy Fair Trade cocoa. For several years Nestle has been claiming that social certification of its cocoa production is impossible. Yet, social certification exists for cocoa: it's called Fair Trade. Why can't Nestle make a commitment to convert to Fair Trade?

For more information on the issue of forced and trafficked child labor in global cocoa/chocolate production, visit

Bama Athreya, International Labor Rights Fund

So two click away from Nestlé's website is information on its aggressive marketing of baby foods and unfair treatment of cocoa farmers. You could call that a form of transparency - which is why the link will probably not be there for much longer.

1 comment:

CJT said...

Nestlé is the largest chocolate corporation in the world with over sixty-five billion dollars in annual sales. For this very reason it is absolutely deplorable that they do not currently engage in the Fair Trade of cocoa. I definitely agree with your statement: “for several years Nestlé has been claiming that social certification of its cocoa production is impossible. Yet, social certification exists for cocoa: it's called Fair Trade. Why can't Nestle make a commitment to convert to Fair Trade?” They must be held accountable for their human rights violations and they must be pressured to convert to Fair Trade. This would guarantee a modest minimum price per pound of cocoa, a price that Nestlé could definitely afford to pay, thus providing a fair price to small farmers and an end to the practice of child labor and child slavery. Currently, as The International Labor Organization states, about a quarter of a million children between the ages of nine and twelve are working in these farms. For now, until Nestle takes responsibility for its cocoa supply chain I will only buy chocolate that has been Fair Trade Certified™