Seven of the world’s largest cocoa companies have been accused of using child labour so they can “continue to benefit from cheap cocoa” in new legal papers.
The lawsuit has been brought by eight Malian citizens who claim they were trafficked as children to the Cote D’Ivoire to work on cocoa plantations.
Nestle, Cargill, Hersheys, Olam, Mars, Mondelez and Barry Callebaut are named as defendants in the case, brought in Washington DC, and a newly filed opposition brief alleges that they formed a “venture to allow them to continue benefitting from cheap cocoa harvested by forced child labour”.
The cocoa industry has faced allegations that young children are being used to work on farms harvesting cocoa beans.
A 2020 study by the University of Chicago found that 1.56million children are harvesting cocoa today, with the main countries for production being the Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.