How is Nestlé helping to stop child labor?
We are fully against child labor and committed to preventing and stopping it whenever it occurs in our supply chain. It is difficult to remove the risk entirely, but we are dedicated to doing so.
Nestlé works with 700,000 farmers worldwide directly and many others indirectly. Many of our suppliers live and work in communities where children have traditionally worked on family farms, for historic and economic reasons.
If we do receive reports of child labor we will investigate allegations relating to specific suppliers, and take strong action if there is evidence of wrongdoing.
All suppliers must follow our Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb), which has a ‘minimum age for employment’. No supplier should employ under 15s or those under the completion age for compulsory education, whichever is higher – subject to strict parental exceptions for family farm work.
We also state our strong opposition to child exploitation in our Corporate Business Principles, which guide how all Nestlé employees and business partners should behave.
Ending child labor is a shared responsibility, and Nestlé is keen to work with everyone committed to tackling it.
Cocoa sourcing practices and child labor
Child labor in cocoa stems from a lack of access to education, poverty, and a lack of community awareness about the dangers of farm work. We are working with local communities to tackle the root causes of child labor, while ensuring they remain financially sustainable.
We have made important progress in tackling child labor in cocoa, as our latest report shows. However, we realize that as long as child labor still exist there is more to do.
Our child labor work builds on the Nestlé Cocoa Plan (2009--), a program designed to improve cocoa farmers’ lives and their communities through ‘better farming, better lives and better cocoa’.
We help farmers by training them in good agricultural practices, promoting gender equality, addressing child labor and creating long-term relationships with them as suppliers.
Is certified chocolate child labor free?
Certification is one of the tools that we use to ensure our raw materials, including cocoa, are sourced responsibly. It is not the sole answer to the challenges faced by cocoa-growing communities, but it can be part of the solution. Our experience shows that certification can help cocoa cooperatives improve their standards and practices.
Building on this, the Nestlé Cocoa Plan and our Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System aim to further improve the lives of farmers in our cocoa supply chain and address key challenges in the cocoa sector through:
- Better farming: addressing challenges such as agricultural practices, rejuvenation of plantations and tackling deforestation.
- Better lives: empowering women and working to eliminate child labor.
- Better cocoa: building long-term relationships in our supply chains.
We continue to work with our certification partners to improve the standards and their implementation.
Do you support the Living Income Differential (LID) established by the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana?
We strongly believe that cocoa farmers should earn an income that allows them to maintain a decent, adequate standard of living for them and their families.
We support efforts from the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to improve living standards. We were one of the first companies to buy 2020/2021 cocoa with the Living Income Differential (LID) – where USD 400 is added to the per ton price, to help support farmers.
We continue to buy cocoa with the LID premium, ahead of our usual buying pattern. This demonstrates our support for the governments’ initiative.
Child labor monitoring and remediation
Nestlé is running ‘monitoring and remediation’ schemes (working with Swiss non-profit International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), to tackle child labor in Côte d’Ivoire (2012—) and Ghana (2016--) as part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. This covers the co-operatives we source cocoa from directly, and form part of our Child Labor Action Plan (pdf, 450Kb).
The system uses local ‘community liaison’ people and ‘child labor agents’ who work to raise awareness of child labor in communities, identify children at risk and report their findings to us and our suppliers.
We were the first cocoa purchaser to establish such a system, which now covers more than 2,000 communities and 65,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire. Since 2012, it has helped us identify 25,000+ children involved in child labor.
We have helped over 11,000+ of these kids move away from labor, and are working to help the rest. Two years after receiving help, our analysis shows that over 50% of these children do not return to work in the sector. Many are in full-time education instead. In Ghana, the scheme now covers 2,800 farmers.
Read FLA’s latest (October 2018) independent monitoring report on our Côte d’Ivoire cocoa supply chain.
Remediation is the help we give a child identified as being at risk of child labor. It could involve helping their family get a copy of their birth certificate so the child enrolls in school, or giving them school equipment or a uniform.
We've also helped families increase household incomes – so that children don't have to work and families can afford to send them to school. For example, we've helped women's groups grow food crops for sale.
Nestlé has also helped young adults organize labor groups that villages can employ for high-risk work like cutting trees and spraying crops, to make it less likely that children do this work.
In other cases, new school buildings or additional teachers are needed. This is why we collaborate with local authorities and civil society.
Helping children in cocoa-growing communities attend school helps prevent child labor, and we have built or renovated 45 schools to benefit more than 11,000 kids.
In 2016, we began a partnership with the Jacobs Foundation to improve education quality. Through this, we have built over 40 small ‘bridge schools’ benefitting over 3,100 children.
Such projects also involve helping provide children with birth certificates so they can attend school.
Hazelnut sourcing practices and child labor
Our work with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) since 2011 and others has significantly reduced the number of children working in Turkey’s hazelnut supply chain, although significant challenges remain.
After six years, we hit 100% traceability for hazelnut sourcing in Turkey, and continue to implement a monitoring and remediation system to tackle child labor and other human rights issues.
Globally, we have significantly improved sourcing, with 90% of our global hazelnut supply now traceable, and 80% categorized as responsibly sourced.
Tackling child labor in hazelnuts is a shared responsibility, and we welcome dialogue, engagement and collective action with all those committed to doing so.
Find out more
- Read more about the Nestlé Cocoa Plan
- Download the infographic: Tackling child labour in our cocoa supply chain (pdf, 900Kb)
- Nestlé Action Plan on Women in the Cocoa Supply Chain (pdf, 425Kb)
- Nestlé Action Plan on the Responsible Sourcing of Cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire (pdf, 500Kb)
- Tackling Child Labour 2017 Report (pdf, 5Mb)