Thailand Fish Industry Slave Labor
Recent investigations into the seafood industry in Thailand has undercovered rampant abuses of forced labour and human trafficking. Nestle currently gets its seafood for the Fancy Feast catfood brand from Thailand suppliers accused of using slave labor.
After investigative news reports and internal investigations tying slave labor to Nestle’s shrimp, prawns and Purina brand pet foods, in February 2016 Nestle finally admitted publically it had found forced labour in its supply chains in Thailand. Nestlé’s executive vice-president in charge of operations wrote “As we’ve said consistently, forced labour and human rights abuses have no place in our supply chain and Nestlé believes that by working with suppliers we can make a positive difference to the sourcing of ingredients.”
Nestle commission an investigative nonprofit organization Verite to investigate on their supply chain. According to an AP article:
“Verite interviewed more than 100 people, including about 80 workers from Myanmar and Cambodia, as well as boat owners, shrimp farm owners, site supervisors and representatives of Nestle’s suppliers. They visited fish ports and fishmeal packing plants, shrimp farms and docked fishing boats, all in Thailand.
Boat captains and managers, along with workers, confirmed violence and danger in the Thai seafood sector, a booming industry which exports $7 billion of products a year, although managers said workers sometimes got hurt because they were drunk and fighting. Boat captains rarely checked ages of workers, and Verite found underage workers forced to fish. Workers said they labor without rest, their food and water are minimal, outside contact is cut off, and they are given fake identities to hide that they are working illegally.”
Nestle will continue to get their seafood from Thailand seafood industry. Their efforts may reduce slave labor but few doubt they will eliminate slave labor from their supply chain.
Ivory Coast Cocoa Child Slave Labor
Although this disclosure of slavery in Nestles Thailand supply chain by one of the biggest brands in the world was a huge victory in anti-trafficking initiative, during the same time of Nestle’s admission, Nestle along with Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, were attempting to cover up child slavery in their cocoa/chocolate supply chain from Ivory Coast.
Researchers from the Fair Labor Association (FLA), which was commissioned by Nestlé to investigate workers rights on its west African farms in 2013 amid international pressure, found child workers at 7% of the farms visited.
More than 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown in the region, with the majority coming from two countries: Ivory Coast and Ghana, which together produce 60% of the global total.
Nestlé has repeatedly stated its taking numerous actions to address child labor in its supply chain including increasing access to education, stepping up systems of age verification at farms and increasing awareness of the company’s own code of conduct.
A Nestlé spokesperson told the Guardian: “Unfortunately, the scale and complexity of the issue is such that no company sourcing cocoa from Ivory Coast can guarantee that it has completely removed the risk of child labour from its supply chain.”
According to a 2016 Fortune article:
“In early 2000s the biggest chocolate makers agreed to eradicate the worst forms of child labor, as defined by the International Labor Organization’s Convention No. 182, by July 1, 2005. The deadline for meeting the goals of the Harkin-Engel Protocol was then pushed back to 2008, then 2010—and then it was really extended. The industry is now working on its pledge in 2010 to reduce child labor in Ivory Coast and Ghana by 70% by 2020.
Unfortunately, progress has been slow—and by some measures the problem has actually gotten worse in recent years. In July 2015 the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University released the findings of a comprehensive survey of child labor in Ivory Coast and Ghana in the 2013–14 growing season. The report found that 2.1 million children had been engaged in inappropriate forms of child labor in Ivory Coast and Ghana combined—a 21% increase over the 1.75 million identified in its survey five years earlier. Of those, 96% were found to be involved in “hazardous activity.” The number of children reported to be performing dangerous tasks fell by 6% in Ghana but jumped by 46% in Ivory Coast.”
Fortune Investigation into Child Slave Labor on West African Cocoa Farms
RT Report on Child Slave Labor on West African Cocoa Farms
Brazilian Coffee Slave Labor
Nestlé and Jacobs Douwe Egberts say beans from Brazilian plantations using slave labour may have ended up in their coffee
According to a 2015 Guardian article,
“Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of coffee, accounting for about one-third of the global market. Yet workers often face debt bondage, non-existent work contracts, exposure to deadly pesticides, lack of protective equipment, and accommodation without doors, mattresses or drinking water, the DanWatch report says. Such working conditions contravene Brazilian and international law, as well as the ethical codes Nestlé and Jacobs Douwe Egberts require from their suppliers.
Neither Nestlé nor Jacobs Douwe Egberts, which together account for 39% of the global coffee market, know the names of all the plantations that grow their coffee as they also buy beans from middlemen and exporters in a muddled supply chain, claims DanWatch.
As a result, both companies – whose brands include Nescafé, Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Coffee-mate and Senseo – admit that while they do not buy beans directly from “blacklisted” plantations where human rights abuses are known to take place, they cannot rule out that slavery-like conditions may exist in their supply chain.”
According to a 2016 Guardian article:
“DanWatch spent seven months investigating the industry, speaking to farmers, experts and trade unions, inspecting plantations with Brazilian authorities, and tracing beans through a complicated supply chain from plantation to middleman to world market.
Nestlé confirmed to DanWatch that it bought coffee from two plantations where workers were rescued from forced labour by Brazilian authorities last summer.”
- Buy products that don’t use slave labor
- Buy Products with these certifications
Guide to Fair Trade logos – Why?
Certification for coffee, cocoa, and tea – Why?
Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Certification that checks environmental and social conditions for marine farming