Against Exploitative Purchasing Practices: Investors Call on Chocolate Companies to Ensure a Living Income for Cocoa Farmers

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– May 20, 2024

IASJ and Investors representing more than $8.8 trillion USD are calling on chocolate companies to use their purchasing power to ensure West African cocoa farmers receive a living income for their cocoa. 

Chocolate companies continue to profit off the backs of child laborers, with an estimated 1.56 million children working on cocoa plantations in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, where 60% of global cocoa supply is produced. Systemic poverty in the region is a driver of child labor, deforestation, and other human rights abuses in the cocoa sector. Despite chocolate companies’ commitments over the decades to eradicate child labor, little progress has been made. Chocolate companies need to address the root issue of systemic poverty. Cocoa farmers are often paid far below the World Bank’s poverty threshold of $2.15 per day. Tackling child labor will require chocolate companies, working both collectively and individually, to address this root cause by ensuring cocoa farmers receive a living income.  

"As a cocoa farmer myself, I know from experience that cocoa farmers in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire need to receive a living income in order to support ourselves and our families. Chocolate companies can and should be paying higher premiums to ensure cocoa farmers are paid a higher price for their cocoa. The investor letter sends a strong message to chocolate companies that investors deeply care about these issues and that they will no longer stand for exploitative purchasing practices."
Issifu Issaka
President of the Sefwi Bekwai Cocoa Farmer Cooperative Union

Investors believe the chocolate industry can and should play a decisive role in eradicating child labor in the West African cocoa supply chain, due to its leverage and influence. Through their purchasing practices, chocolate companies have the ability to raise cocoa farmer income to reach a living income. Price interventions by companies can play a crucial role in helping cocoa farmers reach a living income.

“We're calling on chocolate companies to use their purchasing power, through price interventions, to ensure cocoa farmers receive a living income. Because of their size and influence, chocolate companies are uniquely positioned to address systemic poverty by ensuring cocoa farmers receive a living income."
Aaron Acosta
Program Director, IASJ

The investor letter, organized by IASJ, is directed to the Big 6 chocolate companies, who are the world’s leading chocolate producers –  Mars, Incorporated; Mondelez International, Inc.; Ferrero International SpA; The Hershey Company; Nestle S.A.; Lindt & Sprungli AG – and urges them to swiftly take both individual and collective action to do the following, all the while incorporating a gender equity approach:

  1. Ensure all cocoa farmers in their supply chains receive a living income by the end of 2025;
  2. Improve cocoa farmer resilience and security through long-term contracts that reduce the risks to cocoa farmers; and
  3. Publish information on the progress towards achieving the former

In summary, investors are calling on chocolate companies to end exploitative purchasing practices and to use their leverage to ensure cocoa farmers receive a living income. 

To see the full investor letter and signatories, please visit this link:

For press inquiries or additional questions, please reach out to Aaron Acosta, Program Director, at