Background and aims

The International Labour Organization states that child labor violates basic human rights.

It has been proven that household poverty is closely associated with child labor (source: ILO (International Labour Organization)). By keeping children out of school, any chance of social mobility is made all the less likely. As most of the cocoa in West Africa is produced by smallholders, households must deal with the realities of rural poverty, as well as difficulties accessing quality education due to a lack of local infrastructure. 
The International Labour Organization uses two standards, both of which have been adopted worldwide and provide the legal basis for the fight against child labor:  

  • Convention 138 on the minimum working age adopted in 1973: the minimum age for admission to employment or work is set at 15 (or 13 for light work). The minimum age for hazardous work is 18. 
  • Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labor, adopted in 1999: states that have ratified the convention must eradicate the worst forms of labor for children under the age of 18, including all forms of slavery or similar practices such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom, and forced or compulsory labor.
enfants éducation côte d'ivoire

It is up to the international community to ensure that these standards are applied, by exercising due diligence in global supply chains. Cocoa bean producers are particularly badly impacted by the dangers of child labor. These are linked to difficulties attaining a decent standard of living for families in rural areas, and the lack of local education infrastructure

If children have to go to school and parents can't afford it, children are forced to support their families and work becomes an unavoidable reality. In West Africa (and the world's two leading cocoa-producing countries, Ghana and Ivory Coast, in particular), the NGO International Cocoa Initiative estimates that 1.56 million children are forced to work alongside their families. Forced labor is less widespread but remains a real risk in these countries.  

At Valrhona, we are aware of the need to do better and make every effort to combat child labor. 

A collective commitment

Membership of the ICI – International Cocoa Initiative 

In 2017, Valrhona became a member of the NGO International Cocoa Initiative which works in Ghana and Ivory Coast. 
This NGO strives to secure a better future for children in cocoa-producing communities. It has tested and rolled out solutions for Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS)
The priority is to apply these solutions to our West African supplies, which are the most at-risk. 

Renovation of a school in Côte d'Ivoire

Valrhona's commitments and actions

    We are updating a human rights and child labor risk map to ensure our partner suppliers are managed more effectively. 
    The Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) method developed by the NGO ICI uses liaison officers in villages to identify child laborers. The aim is to raise families’ awareness and offer children activities outside of work so that, little by little, they can get back to school and the NGO can monitor progress. Our partners implement this methodology and report directly to the ICI. By working continually with producers and families, Valrhona aims to make sure that there is zero child labor on the cocoa farms. 
children during the renovation of a school in Côte d'Ivoire

100% of countries

will be covered by a human rights mapping tool that identifies countries at risk of child labor.

100% of at-risk countries

will be covered by a Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) that has been approved by a third party.

Portrait of a cocoa Sourcer

Through the testimony of Stéphane Sabourin, Valrhona cocoa sourcer, discover some of the actions taken by Valrhona to promote access to education.

Improving access to education

At Valrhona, we are aware that minimum prices are not enough to guarantee a decent standard of living, and we are acting accordingly.

In Ivory Coast, over the last five years Valrhona has bought its cocoa at a price averaging 34% more than the minimum guaranteed by the state. Valrhona also gives producers a premium based on quality. In Ghana, in 2022, the premium per bag was increased by 40% to help producers cope with local inflation.

sourceur and producer of Valrhona cocoa

Valrhona relies on its long-term relationships with partners and producers as a means of supporting them in the fight against deforestation and global warming. We are committed to having no plots on protected land. By overlaying all our partner growers' plots onto each country’s official map, we can check that none are in a protected area.

At the same time, we are committed to reducing its carbon use across all emission scopes: we have a target of cutting our carbon emissions by 90% (compared with 2018) by 2050. So we have launched a program with the NGO Nitidæ to calculate our cocoa beans’ carbon footprint from the growing area itself. Since 2023, these field studies carried out and certified by the NGO have made it possible to survey, qualify and quantify the risk of deforestation over a 20-year period.

Belize Forest

At Valrhona, we know that agroecology is a priority if we are to sustain cocoa-growing over the long term, so we have a responsibility to help our producers to adopt this practice.

Since 2015, we have been a founding member of the Cacao Forest project, a pioneering multi-sector initiative that aims to build a sustainable cocoa industry through agroforestry.

Between 2015 and 2022, several agroforestry models were tested in the Dominican Republic, and the most successful ones were identified and ready to be rolled out across the country. Since 2023, the Cacao Forest program has been developing a proposal for Ivory Coast.

cocoa tree plantation in Madagascar

Traceability underpins all our policies and ambitions and is a prerequisite for any environmentally and socially responsible business. It enables us to monitor, strengthen and orient our actions.

100% of Valrhona cocoa beans are traced from the producer. To go further, Valrhona is committed to extending its plot-based traceability so that we can gain even more visibility over production areas. By the end of 2022, 60% of our bean harvest had been geolocated and mapped - that is 6,951 producers with over 11,441 hectares of mapped plots.