Australians love chocolate – in fact, we consume over $3 billion worth of it each year, which equates to a whopping 32kg a year per person according to the CSIRO.
Easter is an especially busy time of year for chocolate retailers, as a tempting range of bunnies, eggs and chocolate-filled hampers come on the market, bringing with it a spike in chocolate sales.
But behind the Easter packaging and colourful foil wrapping there's a dark side. Around 70% of the cocoa we consume comes from West Africa, where it's estimated that more than two million children and young people under the age of 18 work as labourers in cacao harvesting.
Some of these children are trafficked; many are working under harmful labour conditions. And it's the cocoa they produce that ends up in the chocolate we eat.
The good news is that in recent years there's been an increase in consumer demand for ethical and sustainable production methods, which has resulted in growth of certified chocolate products – including ethical Easter eggs.
Due to the uptick in consumer concern around climate change, sustainable agriculture and working conditions for small-scale farmers, more brands have been entering the ethical market, putting independent programs in place or independently certifying their chocolate products.
As consumer awareness increases, some retailers such as Aldi, Coles and Woolworths have also introduced their own certified chocolate and cocoa offerings.
What's considered ethical might be different for different people. For the purposes of this article, we're applying the term to those chocolate products that have been certified by one of the primary certification bodies available in Australia: Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, and Cocoa Horizons.
So as Easter rolls around again, which brands have certified chocolate options available?
- Aldi's Dairy Fine, Choceur and Moser Roth chocolate ranges are Rainforest Alliance- or Fairtrade-certified.
- Chocolatier Australia's chocolate eggs, available through David Jones, Myer, specialty stores, some IGA and Foodland supermarkets, pharmacies and other chocolate suppliers are Rainforest Alliance-certified.
- Coles also has a range of branded Fairtrade- and Rainforest Alliance/UTZ-certified solid block and Easter chocolates.
- Woolworths' Homebrand chocolate blocks are certified by either Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance/UTZ.
- Haigh's sources 80% of their cocoa from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms.
- Divine chocolate eggs and bunnies are Fairtrade-certified, and are available through online stores.
- Whittakers Ghanaian cacao beans are 100% Rainforest Alliance-certified and you can find the logo on chocolate that contains these beans. Some blocks with more than 50% cocoa are also vegan (although may contain traces of dairy products from shared equipment).
- Darrell Lea sources 100% of their cocoa from sustainable sources through a partnership with Cocoa Horizons.
- Koko Black sustainably sources their cocoa through Cocoa Horizons, and their Easter eggs and chocolate can be found in Harris Farm Markets, specialty stores and online.
- Loving Earth has organic, fair trade, and Fair Choice-certified vegan chocolate and Easter products. They're available at Woolworths, through specialty grocers and online.
- Pico chocolate blocks are Fairtrade-certified, vegan and organic. They're available at major supermarkets, IGA, Harris Farm Markets and online.
- Ferrero has 100% independently certified fair trade cocoa in their chocolate products, including from Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Cocoa Horizons.
Nestle, Mondelez (Cadbury), Mars, Hershey, and Lindt have their own programs in place to reduce harm in their cocoa supply chains, although this ethically sourced cocoa may not be in all products.
Each year Be Slavery Free works with a number of other organisations such as Mighty Earth to produce their Chocolate Scorecard, which can help inform your buying decisions. This list rates chocolate brands and Easter eggs against a number of categories, including deforestation and climate, child labour, traceability, and living income.
Last year, Whittakers, Alter Eco, and Tony's Chocolonely took out their Good Egg Award for greatest improvement in sustainable policies.
The 2022 Scorecard, which has been developed with the help of 32 NGOs, will be available 8 April, and will include ratings for around 40 chocolate companies.
"We will be doing an Australian and New Zealand section of the Scorecard this year too," says Be Slavery Free's Fuzz Kitto. "People will be able to download this to their phones and take it shopping with them in time for Easter."
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.