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30 June 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha
Swiss confectionary giant Nestlé has set out an action plan in response to a report from the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to prevent child labour at cocoa suppliers on the Ivory Coast.
As reported by SM in December, the company joined the non-profit network to assess its cocoa supply chain in the country and investigate whether contractors are employing children. Nestlé does not own or operate cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast but it does source the raw product from contractors based there.
Following scrutiny by the two organisations, the FLA this month produced the Sustainable Management of Nestlé's Cocoa Supply Chain in the Ivory Coast – Focus on Labor standards, which set out 11 recommendations. Nestlé has now responded with an action plan, published yesterday, that explains what it intends to do on each point. The chief aim is to increase awareness of child labour practices and intervene when there is a risk.
The company, which owns chocolate brands including Kit Kat and Yorkie, became a member of the FLA in February 2012 as part of its commitment to build a sustainable supply chain for cocoa. The FLA is a collaborative network of organisations looking to improve working conditions.
The FLA report recommended further clarification of the Nestlé Supplier Code, which is a set of minimum standards suppliers, employees and subcontractors are expected to adhere to. These cover areas including: forced child labour, safety and health. The code requires benchmarks specifically for hours of work and compensation. The company has said it will seek to refine the code in 2013.
The FLA also proposed that the company increase awareness of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, which sets out its commitments to sustainable sourcing and the elimination of child labour, and the Nestlé Supplier Code along all parts of the supply chain. Nestlé has committed to distributing an easy-to-understand supplier code to more than 20,000 cocoa farmers by October 2012. It will also seek to provide farmers with training on addressing child labour.
Nestlé has pledged to source 10 per cent of its cocoa supply this year from farmers covered by the Nestlé Cocoa Plan and increase this to 15 per cent in 2013. It is also supporting the Ivory Coast government’s action plan directed against child labour, trafficking and exploitation.
José Lopez, Nestlé’s executive vice president for operations, said: “The use of child labour in our cocoa supply chain goes against everything we stand for. As the FLA report makes clear, no company sourcing cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire can guarantee that it doesn’t happen, but what we can say is that tackling child labour is a top priority for our company.”