Hazelnuts used to make Nutella’s spread have been linked to child labour in Turkey, an investigation has found.
The investigation, conducted by the BBC, revealed families of migrants –including children – are often employed as seasonal workers by hazelnut farm owners in Turkey.
Children as young as 10 years old were found to have been working alongside their families to pick hazelnuts.
Kazim Yaman, co-owner of an orchard, told the BBC while he is against child labour, “the mother and father want them to work and to be paid”.
The migrants, mainly made up of Kurds, live in the predominantly poor south and east regions of Turkey. The investigation found they could be paid as little as 95 lira (£13) per day, which is less than the Turkish minimum wage.
Almost three quarters of the world’s hazelnuts come from Turkey. Manufacturer Ferrero, which makes Nutella and Kinder chocolate, is responsible for buying up to a third of the entire Turkish hazelnut crop and approximately a quarter of the global hazelnut supply.
The investigation also found that smallholder farmers and traders are not asked by Ferrero about the working conditions of those picking the crops.
In response to the investigation, Ferrero maintained that ethical practices, including better employment practices, in its “complex” hazelnut supply chain are taken seriously. It confirmed it has a number of measures in place to work with its stakeholders to eliminate child labour, including outlining values suppliers should adhere to in its code of business conduct.
The code states that Ferrero requires all its partners throughout the supply chain to be “strongly committed to the elimination of child labour”.
It added: “We are continuously working with other stakeholders in our supply chain to improve traceability. We are demanding greater transparency from all stakeholders to improve quality and sustainability and our sustainable hazelnut sourcing roadmap aims to be 100% traceable by 2020.”
According to a report from Ferrero, seen by the BBC, only 39% of the hazelnuts the manufacturer buys are currently traceable.
In June 2019, Ferrero published a list of palm oil mills it worked with in 2017 and 2018 as part of moves towards supply chain transparency. The firm confirmed it would continue to name its palm oil suppliers twice a year.
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