Zero Child Labour By 2025

Zero Child Labour By 2025



We have a responsibility and a plan of action – built on full traceability and transparency – to stop any form of child labour by 2025 and make it something of the past.

We cannot be clear enough: we strongly condemn modern slavery, trafficking or forced labour that exploits adults or children. There simply is no place for any of these violations of human rights in our supply chain. Neither do we accept any other form of child labour, which shows different faces and is caused by poverty as the main obstacle for farmers to hire professional staff to work on their farms. It leads them to rely on their family and children to help on the farms.

We source cocoa directly from farmer groups in Ecuador, and mainly from farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Despite the many challenges, we will never turn our back on West African cocoa farmers. West African cocoa has always been at the heart of Callebaut’s chocolate taste. And West African cocoa farmers are as much at the heart of our craftsmanship as our Master roasters, blenders and chocolate makers. Sourcing cocoa elsewhere brings no solution for farmers there, nor for their children and families. That’s why we made a clear and conscious choice to solve the problems where they are. We partner with cocoa farming communities and NGOs to face the problem of child labour and help turn West African cocoa cultivation into a thriving crop and a sustainable source of income for local farming communities.

1. We guarantee traceability to the farmer communities and source the cocoa beans for our chocolate through a segregated flow

Since 2020, Callebaut is the first chocolate producer in the world to work with traceable cocoa beans for all its Finest Belgian chocolates – bringing traceability to an unprecedented scale in the chocolate industry. To us, it was a crucial step in guaranteeing a transparent supply chain to every chef and artisan who put their trust in our products and pledge. 

With a simple QR-scan and by entering the unique batch code on every pack, chefs and artisans can trace our chocolate back to the farmer communities where we source the cocoa beans. Our traceability guarantees the Cocoa Horizons program is behind the provenance of our beans: only from farms we know, partner with and monitor: 41.449 farmers in Ivory Coast, 6.704 farmers in Ghana and 5 verified buying organisations in Ecuador. It also guarantees chefs and artisans of Callebaut’s ongoing commitment to fighting child labour.

The cocoa beans Callebaut sources are fully segregated from Barry Callebaut’s supply chain: to maintain their traceability and because they have been selected upon the quality standards we need to make our Callebaut chocolate.

Knowing the farmers we work with, allows us to partner with them, build long-lasting relations, and monitor the activities on the farms. Through our radical shift towards traceable cocoa beans, we can detect, remediate and eradicate child labour.

We believe it is the most effective way to guarantee a sustainable, reliable and transparent supply chain.


2. We are in touch with all our farmers via the Cocoa Horizons Foundation

We know all the farmer groups who grow the cocoa beans for our chocolate and stay close to them through the field work of the Cocoa Horizons Foundation. The local teams focus on providing coaching, enabling access to financing and farm services, empowerment programs to farmers and engage in social community projects to protect children and improve livelihoods.

The Foundation also collects data from the farms we work with: 41.449 Cocoa Horizons verified farmers in Ivory Coast and 6.704 verified farmers in Ghana, growing 100% of the West African cocoa beans for Callebaut’s chocolate. These data are key to understand the activities on the farm, to assess the risk of child labour and to remediate every case found.

3. We prioritise the communities at risk and children in greatest need

The Cocoa Horizons Foundation prioritises those communities at highest risk, aiming at detecting every case of child labour. The cases are reported, documented and remediated. Yet every case is different. The specific needs and situation of every child are at the heart of the solutions we try to bring. Sometimes, dialogue with the family is sufficient to remediate and prevent it from happening again. Sometimes we have to apply a step-by-step approach to find the right solution.

Our aim is to have parents motivated to see their children attend school instead of doing any type of labour on the farms. This is an ongoing commitment and clearly shows results.

When it comes to slavery, trafficking or forced labour, no cases have been found on the farms we work with. If we were to detect a case of any such human rights violation, we’d report it immediately to the local authorities, with the first priority going to the children: getting them safely out of the place of harm and providing safe shelter for them.


4. Sensitisation on child labour raises awareness among farmer communities

Eradicating child labour permanently is only possible through dialogue with the farmers and the communities they live and work in. That’s why direct training on the topic of child labour and sensitising farmers on the importance of education for their children are key priorities of the Cocoa Horizons Foundation in Ghana and Ivory Coast. In 2019/20 alone we targeted over 11.000 farmers in Ivory Coast and Ghana to take part in the child labour sensitisation training.

5. Enabling farmers to prosper

Poverty is the main root cause of child labour. That’s why we tackle the problem at its roots: by safeguarding farmer income and helping to lift farmers out of poverty. In 2015, Callebaut made a pledge to source cocoa directly from the farmer groups and cooperatives in Ecuador, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Today, 100% of the cocoa beans for our chocolate are sustainably sourced: that means we only source from farms that are Cocoa Horizons verified, paying them a cash premium and investing in activities to professionalise farming, improve productivity and help them to increase their income and their livelihoods.

These farmers receive coaching, business plans, access to services and finance, all to help them improve the health and productivity of their farms and the quality of their crops.


6. Fighting child labour requires partnerships with NGOs and local authorities

Child labour in the cocoa supply chain can only be eradicated by assuming our responsibility as a leading chocolate maker and by collaborating closely with local authorities and NGOs. That’s why Callebaut not only partners with the Cocoa Horizons Foundation but – on the company level – Barry Callebaut also closely works together with the Ghanaian and Ivorian authorities, as well as key consuming countries such as the US and the EU and NGOs. It further takes the lead in the World Cocoa Foundation to tackle sustainability issues related to cocoa cultivation.

7. We won’t rest until child labour is something of the past

Callebaut’s supply chain is transparent and reliable. Eradicating child labour from the cocoa supply chain and guaranteeing thriving farms by 2025 requires our permanent attention and action. We will keep bundling our efforts with the Cocoa Horizons Foundation to keep up the work in the field, also beyond 2025.


  • Do child labor or child slavery occur in Callebaut’s cocoa supply chain?

    Since our partnership with the Cocoa Horizons Foundation in 2015 to this day, no cases of slavery, trafficking or forced labour have been detected in our supply chain.

    But child labour has many faces and also occurs in the family context: farmers who have their children help and work on the farm. In 2019/20, more than 15,000 children1 were interviewed and 2,451 cases2 have been detected and reported – mostly related to children carrying heavy loads. Most of those cases are currently under remediation with the needs of the child involved always being taken as the first priority in the approach we bring.

    1 In 2019/20, we increased our coverage of farmer households with 250% versus 2018/19

    2 Based on the newly broadened definition of child labour, including children carrying heavy loads and using sharp tools.

  • You’re talking about 100% sustainable and traceable chocolate. Can I claim that my Callebaut chocolate is child labor free?

    Since the Cocoa Horizons Foundation started monitoring in 2015, no cases of slavery, trafficking or forced child labour have been detected on the farms we source from.

    However, another form of child labour is often structurally embedded in the family context: where farmers ask their children to help on the cocoa farm. There is no place for any form of child labour in our supply chain. Children belong in school and deserve all chances and access to quality education.  This requires more efforts from everyone: us, the farmer families, local community councils and the authorities in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

    We take our responsibility to monitor and remediate in the field through the Cocoa Horizons representatives present there. In 2018/19, they detected and reported 22 cases of child labour on family farms. All those cases have been remediated in dialogue with the farmer families and local community councils.

  • What is the price you pay to cocoa farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast for their yields? And how much is the premium they receive?

    Both in Ghana and Ivory Coast, the cocoa producer price is determined and fixed by the authorities. In Ghana we pay farmers, for the 2020/21 season, GHS660 (EUR65.50) per bag of 64 kg which is a 28% percent increase over the GHS515 per bag in the 2019/20 season.

    In addition, farmers get support from Cocoa Horizons to improve yields, raise their family income and invest in their farms (coaching, tools, equipment, seedlings, access to financing, services, etc.). This support is equivalent to EUR50 per tonne of beans. Based on productivity and quality assessments, farmers also receive a cash premium as well.

    In Ivory Coast, the price of cocoa paid to farmers for the 2020/21 season, has been set at 1,000 CFA francs (1.52 euros) per kilo. This is up 21% versus the previous year. The Ivorian farmers and farmer groups we work with, receive the sustainability premium for good quality yields as well, which amounts for up to 26,240 CFA or EUR40 per tonne of cocoa beans, in addition to the EUR50 per tonne of cocoa beans invested in activities that enable them to improve their productivity.

  • If poverty is the root cause of child labor: why don’t you pay farmers more for their cocoa?

    In Ghana and Ivory Coast (where we source 100% of our West African cocoa beans), we pay farmers the official cocoa producer price which is officially determined by local authorities. This price includes the extra Living Income Differential (LID) set up by Ghana and Ivory Coast that includes an added price premium to help alleviate farmer poverty.

    But paying a higher price to cocoa farmers will not be enough to tackle poverty from its roots. The main cause can be found in the depletion of cocoa plantations and current farm practices which result in low yields, limiting their income from cocoa. Raising farmer income means we need to invest in resources that help farmers to rejuvenate their farms and improve their yields, enable access to high quality farm services and access to micro credit. We also coach them in diversifying their income (through the cultivation of other crops for instance). Together with paying a fair price for cocoa, we believe this is a more sustainable approach to help farms thrive, make cocoa cultivation an attractive profession for younger generations of farmers, and help farmers prosper.

  • The University of Chicago reported last Sep 2020 that over 1 million children are forced into child labor connected to cocoa cultivation. If so widespread, how can you guarantee that Callebaut’s chocolate is made child labor free?

    Since the Cocoa Horizons Foundation started monitoring in 2015, no cases of slavery, trafficking or forced labour have been detected on the farms we partner with. But child labour in West Africa has many faces: it also occurs in the family context, with children helping their parents on the farms. By sourcing traceable cocoa directly from farmer groups in Ghana and Ivory Coast through the Cocoa Horizons Foundation, we can rely on its 1,400 representatives in the field working closely with the farmer groups. Based on data collection, they assess which communities and children are at risk, and prioritise their focus to detect and remediate any cases of child labour. We currently work with 41.449 Cocoa Horizons verified farmers in Ivory Coast and 6.704 verified farmers in Ghana, growing 100% of the West African cocoa beans for Callebaut’s chocolate.

  • Why have you not spoken about child labor before?

    At Callebaut, we have taken quite some steps during the last 6 years to make our supply chain transparent and traceable for many reasons. To empower cocoa farmers and farmer entrepreneurship in the first place. Yet also, to cut out any forms of child labour. Furthermore, Barry Callebaut – the group we belong to – has initiated and announced its Forever Chocolate program in 2016 that is focusing on eradicating child labour and lifting farmers from poverty. The company reports every year on the progress made.

  • Has Callebaut been named in the International Rights Advocates lawsuit?

    The lawsuit does not relate to the Callebaut brand. Callebaut produces high quality chocolate couvertures for artisans and chefs using traceable cocoa beans and a completely segregated cocoa processing and chocolate production within the Barry Callebaut group.

    Since the cocoa beans for our Callebaut chocolate are fully traceable, we know the cocoa farmer groups we work with, and we stay close to them through the Cocoa Horizons Foundation. We took these steps, to make our supply chain transparent and reliable for every chef who values the absolute quality and fair provenance of their ingredients.

    Despite Callebaut’s strong commitment to eradicating child labour from its entire cocoa supply chain by 2025, and the steps the group has taken to accomplish that goal, Barry Callebaut USA and 6 other industry leaders have been named as defendants in a federal civil class action in the US.

    The plaintiffs’ allegation that Barry Callebaut USA knew or should have known of forced labour in its supply chain is absolutely false. Since our partnership with the Cocoa Horizons Foundation in 2015 to this day, no cases of slavery, trafficking or forced child labour have been detected in our supply chain. If we were to detect a case of slavery, trafficking, or forced labour, we would report it immediately to the local authorities, who are best equipped to remediate the situation and ensure the person’s safety. The company is therefore confident Barry Callebaut USA will prevail in court.

  • Aren’t Callebaut’s and Barry Callebaut’s chocolate the same?

    Callebaut makes chocolate couvertures for artisans and chefs – and dedicates its attention to bean-to-bar making in Belgium with traceable cocoa beans. All cocoa supply for Callebaut’s chocolate is segregated since 2020. That means: our beans come from dedicated farmer groups and cooperatives and are strictly separated from other cocoa that is being processed at Barry Callebaut. We took these steps to make our chocolate fully traceable and our supply chain transparent. Since we know the farms we’re sourcing from, our partner Cocoa Horizons Foundation with a field force of 1,400 team members on the ground, also monitors the farm activities on any type of child labour.

  • Why does Callebaut only source from 41.449 smallholder farmers in Ivory Coast, and 6.704 smallholder farmers in Ghana? Aren’t there many more farmers supplying cocoa beans?

    We directly source from Cocoa Horizons verified farms to guarantee a transparent and fully traceable cocoa supply chain. Every year, these farmer groups and farms grow the amount of quality cocoa beans that are needed to produce our high-quality chocolate. These farms are part of the program and benefit from the sustainability premium through the support on many different activities. As the demand for Callebaut chocolate increases, we will be able to support more farmers in origin countries and expand all the sustainable activities to many more cocoa communities.