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We can answer 'yes' to this question. However, the answer is more complex than that and very important to understand. We hope you read on because every consumer should understand this better in order to make the right choice in the store.
A good answer begins with the explanation of the word 'slave-free'. It's been used a lot nowadays, but what is it about and when can a company actually claim it? What matters in the context of chocolate is forced child labour, the modern form of slavery. This is unfortunately still very common in many parts of the world and it is true that a chocolate producer can influence this directly. Please note that there are no guarantees, but child labour, and in particular its' worst forms, can largely be eliminated by taking 4 important steps.
1. Ownership of the chain. Bean-to-bar means, if done right, that the chocolate producer is involved in the process from the very moment the bean is harvested from the tree. This is the only way to directly and positively influence the work- and living conditions of the farmers and their children. Through thought-through agreements about working methods, safety and transport. But also: by drawing up clear rules for age limits for the workers on the plantations. Most of the chocolate you find in stores is purchased from large chocolate producers and is processed further in Europe or America. This makes it almost impossible to trace the chain back and prevent child labour on plantations. We control the entire chain from tree to bar and maintain personal contact with our farmers' corporations.
2. Pay a living income. The main cause of child labour worldwide is poverty. In order to prevent farmers from having to put their children to work, damage the nature reserves in which they produce or reduce the time that delicious cocoa needs in the country of origin for optimal taste, farmers must be paid a better income. Better? Yes, they get paid a living income. There are official barometers per region, to determine these rates by region. We pay our farmers 50% more than the fairtrade minimum average and thus ensure that they do not have to put their children to work and can maintain better working conditions as well as working hours themselves. We are continuously investigating whether our prices are well set for the different regions
Avoid certain regions. Unfortunately, even owning the full chain and paying a higher income cannot prevent child labour in some countries. The western regions of Africa, in particular the Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, are known for child labour. In fact, in those regions we talk about dangerous forms of child labour. Children between the ages of 5 and 17 are put to work to spray pesticides, which are extremely dangerous chemicals that are very harmful to the childrens health. Unfortunately, child labour is still on the rise in these areas. We source our cocoa exclusively from Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua and Congo, where we can guarantee that those pesticides will not be used, where the political climate protects the children and where we are able to make solid agreements with farmers and cooperatives.
4. Biological and organic! Again, this is about dangerous forms of child labour, spraying pesticides. This is not allowed on certified organic produce. There are strict guidelines to be organically certified. Dangerous pesticides should certainly not be used. Important not only for the chocolate fans and their health, but especially for the children and farmers in the origin countries. With any organic purchase you not only protect yourself and nature, you also protect the people who work at the beginning of the chain. Non-organic chocolate is one of the biggest dangers for children in the cocoa areas. Every cocoa import we do gets tested in an independent lab on 450 pesticides that are used worldwide.
Our chocolate is so good because we think about the entire picture and everyone involved. We want to spoil our customers. And we'd be even happier if you enjoy our product AND talk about this issue with your peers, so that everyone can make more conscious choices in the supermarket.