Both coffee and chocolate are hugely popular products in the UK with a huge market and both coffee and chocolate also offer many benefits - chocolate is amazingly good for the brain and coffee can help prevent bowel cancer.
However, in 2011 a report entitled List of Goods Produced
by Child Labor or Forced Labor was released by the US Department of
Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) which showed that
130 products produced by 71 different countries are manufactured with
the use of child labour or forced labour.
According to the report, both sugarcane and coffee are shortlisted as agricultural products that are produced by children. According to the report, cultivation via the use of child labour is
prevalent in the two leading exporters of coffee in the world: Colombia
It has also been noted that coffee for Ivory Roast, who
are responsible for a large amount of Robusta coffee (used in espresso,
instant and ground coffees), has also been produced via the use of both
child labour and forced labour. Most of the coffee growers in the world
receive lower than 1% of the amount consumers pay for a cappacino and
around 6% of the amount paid for coffee at supermarkets.
According to Global Exchange, Guatemalan plantation workers have to pick
a hundred pounds of coffee before they are permitted the minimum wage
of approximate three dollars per day and often have no choice but to
bring their children to work with them, to ensure they don't fail to
meet their quota... and it's not just coffee!
In 2011 a U.S. government-funded study by Tulane University reported
that over 1.8 million children in West Africa are involved in the
cultivation of cocoa. Also in 2011, Humphrey Hawksley of the BBC
reported that it was commonplace to see "children carrying machetes or
pesticide equipment" with scars on their legs from the machetes, no
protective clothing and no access to first aid.
Thankfully, we do not necessarily have to resort to supporting the slave
trade when buying and consuming coffee and chocolate, as there is also
the option of buying Fair-Trade certified products - which means the
workers are paid fair wages and are free from exploitation whilst
working in healthy conditions... supposedly.
However, there is currently nowhere near
enough demand as there should be for these products and so it seems that the slave
trade continues to be unwittingly supported.
[ Image: Electrolito at WikiMedia Commons - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chuao_003.JPG ]