While cocoa is sourced from several regions around the world, West Africa is the largest producer, making up 70% of the world’s cocoa. The West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire alone grows 40% of the global supply of cocoa, with Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria being the other major producers in the region. Cocoa farmers typically live in poverty, and, as a result, instances of forced labor, human trafficking and the worst forms of child labor are found too often on cocoa farms in West Africa.
The Payson Center at Tulane University, in its 2009 Assessment of Child Labor in the Cocoa Supply Chain in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, found that children are frequently involved in weeding, plucking cocoa pods, gathering and heaping cocoa pods, and other cocoa growing activities. They also reported that 15 percent of children surveyed reported forced or involuntary work in the past twelve months. In addition, they found that nearly 50 percent of children working in cocoa farming in Cote d’Ivoire and over 50 percent in Ghana reported injuries from their work in the past year.
Fair Trade chocolate, however, fights child labor and the extreme poverty and exploitation of cocoa workers by lifting farmers out of poverty, paying them a fair wage, and protecting children from harmful working conditions on cocoa farms.
S'Mores are a symbol of the fun and freedom of summer for children, and that freedom should extend to all children, everywhere. It's time Cosi switched to Fair Trade chocolate for their s'mores.