Chocolate giant Mars is exposed for using cocoa harvested by children as young as FIVE with machetes in Ghana where they earn as little as $115 a YEAR
- A new report claims that suppliers of Mars candy cocoa use child labor in the fields
- Video shows small children carrying machetes and harvesting cocoa beans
- The M&M manufacturer said it has a plan to end child labor in its offerings
Mars, the maker of some of America’s most beloved sweets, has been exposed for using child labor to harvest cocoa beans in Ghana, a new bombshell report has found.
CBS News visited Ghana’s remote cocoa belt and found children as young as five working on farms that supply the chocolate giant – despite the company’s pledge to protect children.
Shocking footage shows small children carrying machetes into fields, with one almost cutting off his fingers while chopping open a cocoa pod.
The M&M and Snickers manufacturer said it has a monitoring system to keep children in school, but CBS News obtained copies of the list and confirmed that some children were working in the fields.
‘Personally, I have made lists before. And I can say on authority that almost all the data, almost all the data has been ‘cooked,'” said a cocoa field supervisor.
A CBS News report found that children attending school were actually working to harvest cocoa beans
Even children who do go to school carry machetes for harvesting before and after class
Field supervisors contracted by Mars gave children backpacks and textbooks with the words “I am a child, I play, I go to school” on them
Munira, 15, is one of the children who are in school but still working in the cocoa fields.
She said she was visited last year by Mars-contracted field supervisors who gave her a backpack and textbooks with the phrase “I’m a kid, I play, I go to school” printed on them.
‘I feel sad. I want to be a doctor, but my family doesn’t have money for school,” Munira said.
She said her family was only able to harvest one 140-pound bag of good quality cocoa last year, which earned them just $115.
The reporter spoke to other children on the list and they all said they are not going to school – and that no one has come to check if they are.
CBS News found that in some cases names on the list were made up. They visited a farm where a child was listed as the farmer’s daughter, but did not exist.
Even children who do attend classes carry machetes with them to work in the fields before and after school.
The company, led by CEO Poul Weihrauch, was founded in 1911 by the Mars family, which has become one of the richest families in the world.
According to the Protecting Children Action Plan, Mars supports providing farmers with living wages.
‘Mars supports the Living Income Differential of US$400 per tonne announced by the governments of Ivory Coast and Ghana in July 2019 to ensure farmers receive a higher income.’
“Governments have also indicated that, among the main 2020/2021 crops, 70% of the minimum price of US$2,600 per tonne will be paid to farmers for their cocoa.”
An M&M factory in New Jersey. A report found that children as young as five harvested cocoa beans for the M&M manufacturer
The company, led by CEO Poul Weihrauch (pictured), was founded in 1911 by the Mars family, which has become one of the richest families in the world
In a statement to CBS in response to the report, a Mars spokesperson said: ‘Our cocoa suppliers in Ghana have agreed to adhere to our robust supplier code of conduct and we have also made it clear that they must have a child labor and recovery system in place . CLMRS) by 2025, meeting the leading standard of the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI).
“More than 65 percent of our cocoa supply in West Africa is already covered by CLMRS, which is implemented on the ground by our suppliers, with audits carried out by certification bodies as part of Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certification requirements.”
The company added: “Mars unequivocally condemns the use of child labor. We are also transparent in saying that we know more needs to be done and we continue to work hard with parties across the cocoa sector to help further promote respect for human rights in the cocoa supply chain.”