Child labor is simply unacceptable and goes against everything we stand for. Unfortunately, it is still a reality in many countries, in particular in agriculture where the majority of child labor involves children supporting their parents on farms.
We aim to prevent and address child labor wherever it occurs in our supply chain. This means protecting children from situations that negatively impact their health or that prevent them from accessing education.
If we receive reports of child labor we investigate allegations relating to specific suppliers, and take strong action if there is evidence of wrongdoing.
All our suppliers must follow our Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb), which has a 'minimum age for employment'. No supplier should employ people under 15 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 there are no quick or easy solutions. We are committed to collective action with local governments, U.N. agencies and development partners, corporations and a broader array of countries and civil society that address the root causes of the issue. We are committed to helping tackle the root causes of child labor, improve standards and ensure progress.
What about child labor in the cocoa supply chain?
Child labor in the cocoa sector is usually the result of a combination of a lack of access to education, widespread poverty and a lack of community awareness about the dangers of such work.
Nestlé is addressing the root causes of child labor as part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. In 2012 we were the first company in the industry to introduce a comprehensive Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), which involves identifying children at risk, engaging with households and communities, and providing targeted remediation measures.
Our system uses locally recruited ‘community liaison people’ and ‘child labor agents’. They work to raise awareness of child labor in communities, identify children at risk and report their findings to us and our suppliers.
The CLMRS covers approximately 2,000 communities and over 100,000 farmers. We have helped close to 90,000 children and have educated 600,000 community members on the issue.
Increasing access to education in an important part of addressing the root causes of child labor, and as of 2019 through the Nestle Cocoa Plan we had supported 45,000 children specifically as it relates to their education. Education provides an alternative to working in the field and broadens opportunities for the future. We have helped build or renovate 49 schools and supplied school kits to nearly 20,000 children. These kits include the materials needed on a daily basis at school, and without that children cannot attend. We are also partnering with organizations dedicated to improving the positive development of children and youth. For example, with the Jacobs Foundation we are focused on helping out-of-school children reintegrate into mainstream education. To date we have established 98 bridging classes, benefitting 2,140 children.
By 2025, we aim to source all of our cocoa globally through the Nestle Cocoa Plan, which means it will be traceable and certified by a third party.
More details on our latest work to address child labor in the cocoa supply chain can be found in our 2019 Tackling Child Labor Report.
Does your child labor monitoring system actually work?
Yes. Our CLMRS covers approximately 2,000 communities and over 100,000 farmers. We have helped close to 90,000 children and have educated 600,000 community members on the issue.
Our monitoring system forms part of our Child Labor Action Plan (pdf, 500Kb), which we drew up in response to recommendations from the non-profit Fair Labor Association (FLA). The FLA works with major companies to improve working conditions in their supply chains.
We first invited them to investigate our cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire and help us assess labor conditions generally, including the child labor problem.
FLA’s latest independent monitoring report from October 2020 showed improvements in data monitoring and transparency, higher rates of awareness around child labor in communities, and increased access to and participation in education for school-age children. We continue working with the FLA to help ensure a sustainable, transparent cocoa supply.
What are you doing to improve livelihoods in cocoa communities?
We strongly believe that cocoa farmers should earn an income that allows them to maintain a decent standard of living for them and their families, and Nestlé purchases cocoa priced with the Living Income Differential. We also encourage income diversification and women’s empowerment, teach better farming practices and enable access to basic financial services.