Ferrero donates $4 million for venture tackling child labour in Turkish hazelnut market

Ferrero has teamed up with the International Labour Organisation in a bid to end child labour reportedly been found within seasonal hazelnut harvesting operations in Turkey, reports Neill Barston

The Italian-founded confectionery group has donated more than $4 million to a 40 month project in the provinces of Trabzon, Zonguldak, and Şanlıurfa, designed to support the withdrawal of children currently working in the sector as well as prevent others from entering it.

Hazelnuts are widely used within chocolate and wider confectionery ranges (a typical Turkish harvest pictured), with the global business joining with government and employee agencies to ensure traceability and sustainability within its own supplies for series including Ferrero Rocher as well as Nutella.

Under the public private partnership framework between ILO and Ferrero, the project will work with ILO tripartite constituents (the government, as well as workers and employers organisations) to support knowledge sharing about what works to address child labour, particularly in the hazelnut supply chain, and to maximise learning opportunities. The ultimate objective of this process is to enhance the ability of national and local stakeholders to take the actions needed to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.

Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Turkey, stated that with this partnership, they will be able to expand their ongoing intervention and cover all hazelnut harvesting areas in Turkey. He added “I am sure that the project will be a concrete example of partnership between a global private sector actor, Ferrero, and the ILO that implements best practices in Turkey and also generates knowledge and lessons learned with global impact.”

The project is also committed to establishing and scaling up mechanisms for direct interventions to end child labour in areas engaged in seasonal hazelnut harvesting, as well as raising awareness about the importance of eliminating child labour among the general public, national and local stakeholders and supply chain actors.

“Ferrero recognises the value and importance of a partnership approach to addressing child labour. The ILO as a specialised agency of the UN has the expertise and experience to understand how to engage effectively. This project builds on the work accomplished since 2013 through our active participation in the ILO-Caobisco public private partnership, and supports the actions we will take in the coming year towards our aim to be a driving force behind a hazelnut industry that creates value for all.” says Marco Gonçalves, Ferrero Chief Procurement & Hazelnut Company Officer.

Despite the decreasing trend in the number of children in economic activity, child labour has been documented as a problem in Turkey. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) Child Labour Force 2019 survey, 720,000 children aged between 5 and 17, or 4.4 % of the total child population in Turkey, were engaged in economic activity.

Out of those, 30.8 % were engaged in economic activity in the agriculture sector. Working children are exposed to occupational risks, which can lead to lifelong chronic health problems. Moreover, the children of seasonal agriculture workers are more likely to face interruptions to their education. Such disruptions can reinforce an under and/or unqualified labour force, which subsequently perpetuates poverty.

In early 2021, Ferrero will, in line with its Supplier Code, release a Charter document related to hazelnuts. This Charter will set out Ferrero’s commitments in three areas: Human Rights and Social Practices, Environmental Protection and Sustainability, and Supplier Transparency. Ferrero is committed to an ethical and sustainability hazelnut value chain and making a dedicated and active contribution towards this. Learn more in our Ferrero Sustainability report.

Palm oil sustainability

In addition to its work regarding child labour, Ferrero also recently released its ninth update on sustainable sourcing of palm oil, which has centred on its Palm Oil Charter, which will be reviewed by the end of this year.

Ferrero is also an active supporter of the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA), which is a methodology that distinguishes forest areas for protection from degraded lands with low carbon and biodiversity values that may be developed. The methodology was developed with the aim to ensure a widely accepted, practical, transparent, robust and scientifically credible approach that implements commitments to halt deforestation in the tropics, while ensuring the rights and livelihoods of local people are respected.

In order to reinforce our Palm Oil Charter’s principles on “no-deforestation”, since 2016, it has been working with the Earthworm Foundation to develop its own Verification Protocol. As a result, from October 2020 Ferrero started using the Starling satellite monitoring and verification service across all its supply chain to ensure it is deforestation-free.



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