Recent research by the Rainforest Alliance shows that 62% of Kiwis say, when purchasing gifts for friends and family, it is important that these items are sustainably produced. By shopping for certified chocolate this Easter, Kiwis can be confident they are making choices that are better for people, and for nature. 

Melanie Mokken

Melanie Mokken, Markets Transformation Manager Australia/New Zealand for the Rainforest Alliance said,

“For those wanting to buy sustainably produced chocolate for friends and family this Easter, there are a number of brands to look out for which use our green frog seal. This includes brands such as Whittaker’s, Nutella, Nestlé, Mars and Magnum, plus Countdown own brand chocolate. When you see this little frog seal on products it means that farmers have been provided with the tools, skills and knowledge needed to drive more sustainable and profitable farming.  It also shows that companies reward more sustainable practices that help protect forests, improve farmer livelihoods, promote human rights and support climate adaptation.

“Our research also shows that 83%* of consumers say they agree that businesses aren’t doing enough to reduce environmental impact, whilst 67%** of respondents said that they make sustainably conscious purchasing choices even when it is more expensive to do so. Sixty-eight per cent* also said they are now more conscious about environmental and social sustainability issues, following the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ms Mokken.

Chocolate is consumed widely in New Zealand, however not many people are aware that 60% of cocoa is grown in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where child labour remains widespread.

“Here in Australia and New Zealand, a great number of people have been in and out of lockdown over the last year, some of whom have had the added pressure of having their children home from school. Whilst this has undoubtedly been a difficult time for us, imagine the impact this has had in countries like Ghana and Ivory Coast, where a large part of the population lives in poverty, including many cocoa farmers.

“Due to the impacts of COVID-19, it is possible that child labour in and beyond these countries may increase. This is due to a number of factors but includes the fact that when children are out of school, they are more likely to be engaged in harmful work. Virus-induced restrictions may also lead to disruptions in the cocoa supply chain, which would cause economic distress among rural cocoa farmers. Furthermore, cocoa farmers – like everyone else – face risk of infection, which would affect their ability to work. Children of sick parents or children with only one living parent could therefore be relied upon for all the farm work for their family’s survival,” said Ms Mokken.

The Rainforest Alliance works to improve farmer livelihoods while protecting the environment, and is one of several organisations shifting to a new approach to tackle this global challenge of child labour. Its “assess and address” approach focuses on tackling the root causes of child labour; furthermore, it is aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

“When you buy cocoa products with the Rainforest Alliance seal, you are supporting a better future for our cocoa farmers and for nature. An even better reason to buy more certified chocolate this Easter,” said Ms Mokken,

*Independently commissioned research conducted in December 2020 with 1,020 respondents in New Zealand.

**Source: Colmar-Brunton Better Futures 2020 report, outlines the top concerns for New Zealand consumers.