Nestlé Taking Child Labor Out Of KitKat Bar Cocoa Production

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Written by Staff

From Quartz. Story by Lily Kuo.

Nestlé, the world’s largest food company by revenue, is taking steps to make sure that none of the chocolate in its iconic KitKat bars is made with child labor.

By the first quarter of next year, all KitKat bars will be made with cocoa that has been accredited by third party agencies to assure that it has been sustainably sourced, the company said on Aug. 31.

The announcement comes a few days after a class action lawsuit accused Switzerland-based Nestlé of knowingly using fish from a Thai supplier that uses slave labor for its Fancy Feast cat food.

“Forced labor has no place in our supply chain,” the company said in response.

The company did not say whether other chocolate products would fall under the new rules. The new standard also applies to KitKat bars made in the U.S. by Nestlé licensee Hershey. The company noted in an email to Quartz that all of the cocoa sourced in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan is certified by a nonprofit for sustainable farming, UTZ Certified.

The chocolate wafer is one of the most popular candies in the U.S. and recently boosted Nestle’s earnings in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Japan. Nestlé says that as of 2012, 650 KitKat fingers were being consumed a second around the world.

For years, Nestlé and other companies in the $200 billion-a-year confectionery industry have been accused of sourcing cocoa from farms that use forced child labor.

Last year, the Fair Labor Association found four workers under the age of 15 working on farms in the Côte d’Ivoire that supply Nestlé. Côte d’Ivoire supplies about 40 percent of the world’s cocoa, with much of it harvested by forced child laborers.

Estimates of children working on cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire range between 30,000 and 800,000. Only about 20 percent of the cocoa Nestlé sources from Côte d’Ivoire can be traced, according to the Fair Labor Association, which has partnered with the company to monitor its supply chain since 2012.

These cases are likely to continue. Critics say the impending Trans Pacific Partnership deal between the U.S. and Pacific countries includes a loophole, an 80-year old exemption in the U.S. tariff code, which allows imports of goods into the U.S. to be made by forced labor, when they can’t be manufactured in the U.S. in enough quantities to meet “consumptive demands.”

Read more at Quartz.