Express Your Affection With Fair Trade Confection : ‘Supply chain Justice’s Valentines Day Campaign

Supply Chain Justice is a student movement, based in Edinburgh University, raising
awareness on human rights violations in corporate supply chains, such as unfair pay, forced
child labour, slavery, and unsafe working conditions. They believe that achieving justice
starts through raising public awareness and mobilising the power of consumers to fight these
injustices. People are often unaware of the horrific practises behind what they consume, or so
overwhelmed by the complexity of supply chains that they feel they cannot make a
difference. Through their detailed research and driven campaign, Supply Chain Justice is
striving to unravel these complexities and target consumer pressure. Their current focus is the
highly unethical chocolate industry, which is notorious for the use of forced child labour in
some of the worst working conditions possible. This is an issue in which consumer pressure
could really make a tangible difference. Chocolate is widely consumed and it is a luxury
product rather than a necessity. This makes it easier to encourage ethical alternatives, which
are relatively accessible.

The current campaign is centred around Valentine’s Day. On the 14th, supermarket shelves
will be piled high with heart shaped chocolates and truffles, but few consider the darker heart
at the core of these chocolate’s production. At a time when people want to express love and
care for those around them, Supply Chain Justice asks them to extend this care to the people
whose labour has been brutally exploited in the production of chocolates. The bitter reality
behind these sweet treats is that the chocolate industry is propped up by child labour and

Cheap chocolate comes at a steep human cost, with 1.56 million children forced to work in
the cocoa industry in Ghana and the Ivory Coast alone. This includes children as young as 5
years old.¹ They often have to use dangerous tools such as chainsaws and machetes, leaving
many children carrying brutal scars. Once they cut the bean pods from the trees, children
pack the pods into sacks that weigh more than 100 pounds when full and carry them through
the forest. On many farms, children are also exposed to agricultural chemicals, which they
spray in large amounts on cocoa pods without wearing protective clothing. These tasks
constitute hazardous work which is prohibited for children by Conventions No 138 and 182
of the International Labor Organisation (ILO). 

Depending on the age between 12% and 34% of children in agricultural households in the
Ivory Coast do not attend school.² This is often because parents, who are not paid enough for
the cocoa they sell, are forced to include their children in the farm labour instead of sending
them to school. However, the exploitation of child labour is not limited to the families of
cocoa farmers, as there is also widespread trafficking of children. Some children are sold to
traffickers or farm owners by their families believing they will be able to access better life
conditions. Often, traffickers abduct the young children from small villages in neighbouring
African countries, such as Burkina Faso and Mali. In one village in Burkina Faso, almost every mother in the village has had a child trafficked onto cocoa farms. Once they have been
taken to the cocoa farms, the children may nor see their families for years if ever.³   

The root of this problem is simple: the cocoa price is simply not high enough. Many farmers
are currently paid less than $1 a day, which is far below the extreme poverty line. In the Ivory
Coast it is even less, at $0.78 a day. Although 25-33% of all cocoa is certified under ethical
labels, e.g. Fairtrade or UTZ, even they cannot guarantee to 100% that no exploitation was
used in production.⁴ UTZ also does not guarantee a minimum price and even though Fairtrade
guarantees just that it is still not high enough.⁵  As long as farmers do not earn a living
income, they will not have enough to pay the workers on their farms a living income either
and child labor and slavery will continue to pervade the industry. Within their $103 billion-
per-year industry, chocolate companies have the power to end the use of child labor and
slave labor by paying cocoa farmers a living income for their product. The Ferrero company
alone could provide living income for all of its 90,000 cocoa farmers and the Ferrero family
would still get about $233 million a year.⁶

Nevertheless, there are accessible alternatives to this brutal exploitation. There are numerous
ethical chocolate brands: Alter Ego, Beyond Good, Cacao Crudo, Chocolate and Love, Cox
& Co. , Divine, Doisy & Dam, Eat Your Hat, Endangered Species, Ocelot, Pacari, Shaman,
Seed and Bean, Theo Chocolate, Tony’s Chocolonely, Willie’s Cacao. Supporting these
companies will also put pressure on mainstream chocolate brands to reform their practises. 
Supply Chain Justice also encourages pressure on governments to hold corporations
accountable for human rights abuses in their supply chains. Currently, there is no obligation
on corporations to ensure human rights are adhered to by their suppliers. Supply Chain
Justice supports a “Failure to Prevent Act” which would mandate corporations to do human
rights due diligence in their supply chains. This includes identifying, preventing and
mitigating adverse human rights impacts as well as accounting for how this is done publicly.
Corporations are held accountable for the human rights violations they could have prevented
by being diligent. 

To raise awareness within the student population about the situation and what actions can be
taken, Supply Chain Justice will be present on campus on stalls during the week around
Valentine’s Day. They will hand out free ethical chocolate and aim to educate about these
issues.  Supply Chain Justice has also reached out to NGOs and celebrities to spread the word
and raise awareness about the situation and what actions can be taken. For more information, visit The campaign will continue after Valentines Day and we
are excited to see how it develops.

¹ National Opinion Research Centre at the University of Chicago, NORC Final Report: Assessing
Progress in Reducing Child Labor in Cocoa Production in Cocoa Growing Areas in Côte d’Ivoire and
Ghana (October 2020) 138
accessed 3 Feburary 2022
² ibid 13.
³ Food Empowerment Project, ‘Child Laborand Slavery in the Chocolate Industry’ (January 2022) accessed 3 Feburary 2022 citing Invisible Hands. Directed
by Shraysi Tandon, First Run Features, 2018.
⁴ Food Empowerment Project, ‘Child Laborand Slavery in the Chocolate Industry’ (January 2022) accessed 3 Feburary 2022 citing 
“Certification Is Not the Systematic Solution to Unsustainable Cocoa.” VOICE Network, 2019,
⁵ Samuel Poos, ‘Fair trade struggles to lift cocoa farmers out of poverty in Ivory Coast’ ( Trade for Development
Centre, 28 October 2018)
farmers-out-of-poverty-in-ivory-coast/ accessed 3 February 2022.
⁶ Food Empowerment Project, ‘Child Laborand Slavery in the Chocolate Industry’ (January 2022) accessed 3 Feburary 2022 citing Fountain, Antonie C. and
Friedel Huetz-Adams. Cocoa Barometer 2020. VOICE Network, 2020,