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How ethical is your Easter chocolate?

Did you know Australians consume a whopping 32 kilograms of chocolate a year per person? Yep, many of us really love chocolate! But, this Easter, how many of us will choose chocolate that is good for people and the planet?

Growing consumer concern around climate change, sustainable agriculture and working conditions for small-scale farmers, has seen more brands entering the ethical market, putting independent programs in place or independently certifying their chocolate products.

Yet, some other brands continue to ignore consumer demand for chocolate that’s free of child labour, poverty and deforestation.

How to buy what’s best?

Be Slavery Free joined forces with Macquarie University; Open University UK; and the University of Wollongong to survey the world’s biggest chocolate companies to find which of them are rising to the challenge.

The resulting scorecard* [Eds note: A new scorecard was released after this story went to press – and you can find it here] can help to ensure more of us are buying from companies that are supporting sustainable livelihoods for cacao farmers across the world and minimising environmental damage.

Previous scorecard “Good Eggs” Alter Eco, Tony’s Chocolonely and Whittaker’s continue to be best in class. However, the 2022 Good Egg Award goes to Beyond Good, for a business model which ensures people and the planet are respected and cared for. Their smaller size has enabled this model to be refined and now they are looking to scale up.

Some further good news is that Nestlé has taken significant steps in innovation for addressing farmers’ income with additional payments and with their commitment to plant 2.8 million shade trees by the end of 2022.

Additionally, Ferrero now joins other companies whose cocoa is certified such as Hershey’s, Ritter, Fazer and others. While certification is not perfect, it is often a positive step in a company’s sustainability journey, especially when it is included as a part of other initiatives.

One smaller Australian brand (too small to appear on the scorecard) that seems to be working ethically and sustainability is Chocolate on Purpose.

You can see on the company’s website how it is increasing Indigenous farmers’ participation, empowering women and eradicating child labour, and saving the rainforests and orangutans.

Working on Wiradyuri Country, Wiradyuri woman Fiona of the Bila Galari (Lachlan River) and her friend and ally Jo produce artisan, handcrafted chocolate combinations using Australian native botanicals such as: Garal (Wattleseed), Boombera (Macadamia Nut), Gulalung (Finger Limes), Wyrrung (Wild Rosella) and many other flavours.

Happy shopping (and guilt-free eating)!

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*Note: This Chocolate Scorecard is based on the assessment of the chocolate companies completed in March 2022. [Eds note: The new scorecard released after our story went to press is based on chocolate companies assessed in February 2023.]

**Interested consumers can also look up the “bad eggs” on the scorecard (who aren’t trying as hard as the “good eggs” noted in this story) and invite them to change.

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