Whole Foods likes to brag about its effort to popularize fair trade products, but its shelves are full of chocolate produced by companies that are profiting from the enslavement of children.
As America’s largest fair trade and organic retailer, Whole Foods has enormous power to push its suppliers to adopt more ethical sourcing policies. But the company is allowing major chocolate manufacturers to manipulate fair trade standards and sell a few “ethical” products while continuing to profit from child labor.
Whole Foods has built a successful brand as an ethical retailer. But if it wants to maintain that socially responsible image, Whole Foods needs to do everything in its power to end child slavery in the chocolate industry.
Tell Whole Foods: don’t sell chocolate made by companies profiting from child labor.
Child labor is rampant in the global chocolate industry. A study commissioned by the U.S. government found that nearly 2 million children are working to produce cocoa in West Africa and that unsafe working conditions, forced labor, and human trafficking are rampant in the industry. Currently, the best way to ensure that chocolate isn’t tained by child labor is independent fair trade certification, but Whole Foods continues to sell uncertified chocolates, like Lake Champlain, Barry Callebaut, and Kraft's Cote D’Or.
Meanwhile, Whole Foods is doing business with companies that have failed to institute industry-standard sourcing procedures. Some major manufacturers, such as Mars, Hershey and Ferrero, have committed to ensuring that their supply chains are child labor-free in coming years. Kraft, the world’s largest purchaser of cocoa, has failed to make a similar pledge, and Whole Foods continues to stock its chocolate products.
We know grocery store chains will listen to customer concerns. Already, we’ve worked together to get Trader Joe’s to adopt more ethical sourcing standards for its tomatoes. Let’s pool our economic power together to challenge Whole Foods to sell only ethical chocolate.
Tell Whole Foods: only buy fair trade-certified chocolate, and only buy it from companies that are not earning profits at the expense of children.
PS: Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised about Whole Foods’ shallow commitment to human rights -- after all, its main supplier, UNFI, has subjected its warehouse workers to unsafe conditions and unfair compensation right here in America. It turns out Whole Foods is much less ethical than it would like you to think.