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Striving for ethical chocolate


The Easter chocolate rush might be over but a group of St Aloysius College students is continuing its campaign to highlight the issue of child slavery in the chocolate industry.

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The Justice and Mercy (JAM) group has been researching the availability of ethically-certified chocolate and after an audit of local supermarkets the students wrote postcards either thanking them for stocking ethical Easter eggs or asking them to consider it in the future.

They also visited Haigh’s Chocolates in Adelaide and heard from chief operating officer Peter Millard about how the business has tackled the issue and partnered with Rainforest Alliance to provide better opportunities for farmers, their families and the planet.

Haigh’s sources 80 per cent of its cocoa from Rainforest Alliance certified farms and is aiming for 100 per cent certified cocoa within the next two to three years.

With an estimated two million children working as labourers in cocoa harvesting in West Africa, South America and Papua New Guinea, groups such as Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) have been advocating for consumers to purchase slavery-free chocolate over the past 14 years.

“When we first started talking about chocolate and advocating for people to buy slavery-free Easter eggs, this wasn’t being talked about at all,” said newly appointed ACRATH president Sr Clare Condon SCG.

“Now, 14 years later, it is much more in the public consciousness and people are much more aware of looking for the Fair Trade, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance logos when they buy chocolate, so that’s been really encouraging.”

Mr Millard told the students it was important for them to continue to “make noise about this because we do listen”.

“We hear the voices of those who are respectful and every year we are doing something more about it,” he said.

“We chose to partner with Rainforest Alliance because of their strong focus on supporting farmers towards certification in the growing regions where we source a significant portion of our beans.

“This has allowed us to transition to certified cocoa beans without compromising our chocolate’s traditional flavours and recipes which have been around for more than 60 years.”

Mr Millard, who took part in an ACRATH Conversation on slavery-free chocolate last month, said addressing social and environmental issues was aligned to the values of the family-owned business.

“We feel good to be part of an industry that has confronted the challenges in our supply chains, and is doing something positive about it,” he said.

“At Haigh’s we are doing everything we can do, everyone is on board.”

SAC student Alex Rothwell said it was good to learn more about how different companies produce their chocolate from cocoa beans.

“It’s inspired us to keep talking about this issue,” she said.

SAC’s JAM group meets weekly to raise awareness and act together to address issues of injustice and do their bit to make the world a kinder and fairer place for all.

To find out more about ACRATH or book a speaker email or call 0447 616 828.


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