SfC members engagement on child labour in the cocoa sector

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SfC member Forma Futura engaged Lindt & Sprüngli asking for explanations on the media allegations regarding child labour in various cocoa plantations.


In January 2024, a report by SRF (the German-speaking Swiss television) uncovered cases of child labour on various cocoa plantations in Ghana, from which also the Swiss chocolate producer Lindt & Sprüngli sources some of its cocoa, sometimes via the intermediary ECOM.
For these reasons, SfC’s Swiss member Forma Futura decided to send an email to Lindt & Sprüngli, asking for explanations regarding the allegations. They also initiated a discussion about the cocoa price paid to farming families, considered to be too low, particularly in view of Lindt & Sprüngli’s record-high profits in 2023.

Unfortunately, the response was disappointing. The company stated that it was seeking dialogue with importers and referred to parts of last year’s Sustainability Report and to its Farming Programme, which aims to raise awareness of the issue of child labour among farming families and villages in production areas. According to SFR’s report, however, the Programme wouldn’t be widely known by farming families. Furthermore, the company did not addressed the price issue, partly shifting the responsibility to importers.

The escalation phase

Forma Futura decided to escalate the engagement by sending a further letter. The escalation stage also involved Shareholders for Change members Ecofi and Etica Funds and the German NGO Südwind, which specialises in monitoring the working conditions and child labour in the cocoa supply chain in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. 
The new letter set out specific expectations and pointed demands on behalf of the SfC members, mainly regarding the price and contract issues.

The second response to the Forma Futura letter was, again, unsatisfactory. Although the company provided a little more detail on the planned certification of cocoa butter and cocoa and announced the introduction of a “Living Income” pilot programme from 2025-2027, Lindt & Sprüngli avoided a concrete discussion of the issues raised. Furthermore, the company was evasive also to a question about the European Union’s supply chain law (Corporate Social Due Diligence Directive) and its consequences for Lindt & Sprüngli.

The engagement is still ongoing. 


Photo: Rodrigo Flores, Unsplash