World Vision says it wants Cadbury to hop to it — and bring an ethical Easter egg to Canada.
The international relief and development organization says that nearly 6,000 Canadians have signed its petition urging the chocolate maker to sell its fair trade Easter treat here.
The group has used an email campaign among its supporters and social media to share a link to the petition and encourage them to sign.
“We were really struck by how quickly and how much interest there was in this petition,” said Cheryl Hotchkiss, manager of World Vision’s No Child for Sale awareness campaign.
“I think Canadians feel comfortable encouraging companies to do more. The petition itself is very specific and practical and they could see the outcome of that.”
Cadbury already sells a fair trade Easter egg in Australia.
Cadbury’s parent company, Mondelez International, is aware of the petition and has “reached out” to World Vision to discuss it, a spokesperson for the firm’s Canadian arm told the Toronto Star in an email.
In Canada, Cadbury Dairy Milk bars are currently fair trade certified, spokesperson Stephanie Minna Cass said.
“As the biggest purchaser of FT (fair trade) cocoa beans in the world, we took a conscious decision to put our efforts behind our biggest brand, Cadbury Dairy Milk,” she wrote.
Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bar is featured in World Vision’s Good Chocolate Guide.
Hotchkiss confirmed that World Vision has discussed the issue with Cadbury in the last few months. She said she doesn’t know how many names the petition would need to persuade the company.
“Cadbury is one of the mainstream companies that has actually increased their offerings with fair trade over time. We see this as a potential win for them,” Hotchkiss said.
“We want Canadians to be aware that companies are doing good things and we want to show Cadbury that Canadians do want to see those products and they will buy them.”
Hotchkiss said that the ethical treat may not arrive in time for this Easter. “We appreciate the complexities in the supply chains,” she said.
Canadian shoppers are becoming more aware of fair trade and ethically made products, particularly when it comes to coffee, tea and chocolate, Hotchkiss said.
The chocolate industry has “probably been of the most proactive in addressing the problem of child labour in their supply chains,” Hotchkiss said.
An estimated 2 million children around the world, largely in West Africa, work in dangerous conditions farming cocoa, according to World Vision.
There’s little or no chance of education for children who are forced to work long hours in intense heat, using machetes to clear land and cut down cocoa pods.
“They use a machete and they chop the pod off the lower parts of the tree and they chop it open and peel the beans out,” Hotchkiss said. “You’ll see situations where children have cuts all over their legs and their hands.”
Fair trade-certified cocoa ensures that producers are small family farms that receive a guaranteed minimum price, along with a premium that can be used for education and health services, for their harvest. It does not permit forced or child labour of any kind.
Mondelez International is investing $400 million into its “Cocoa Life” program over the next 10 years to improve the livelihoods of more than 200,000 cocoa farmers and about one million people in cocoa farming comities in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Brazil, Dominican Republic, India and Indonesia, Cass said.