Protesters’ petition calls on Storck confectionery to enhance action on child labour and deforestation

A petition signed by more than 41,000 concerned consumers has been sent to German confectionery group, Storck, with campaigners urging the business to ensure its chocolate supplies are child labour and deforestation-free, reports Neill Barston.

Campaigners from the Mighty Earth environmental organisation called on the company, which is behind brands including Werther’s Originals, Bendicks and Merci, to live up to its sustainable management claims, amid allegations of a lack of transparency within its supply chains and a  ‘glaring incongruity between its profits and cocoa farmer wages.’

The petition has continued beyond its initial unveiling at the Amsterdam Cocoa Week outside the Beurs van Berlage, as the venue hosted the World Cocoa Foundation partnership meeting and Chocoa between 5-11 February.

Confectionery Production has approached Storck, which supplies Aldi stores, for comment in response to the petition and protest, and the business stated that it has complied with international social welfare standards. The business, which has its headquarters in Berlin Germany, also has subsidiaries in a number of locations, including the UK. Its website states a clear policy on stating its opposition to upholding human rights and preventing modern slavery.

However, as Mighty Earth noted, the company received a low rating on the recent independent Chocolate Scorecard, assessing the performance of businesses, which claimed the company was rated as ‘needing to catch up with the industry.’ While the study found that the business had started to implement policies on transparency and child labour, it asserted that more needed to be done on other key issues including agricultural management, as well as child and forced labour.

Etelle Higonnet, Cocoa campaigner and Author of Storck petition called on the business to take urgent action. She said: “Today, we, along with the 41,000 petition signatories, are sending a clear message to Storck that we will continue to hold them accountable until they commit to upholding labor and environmental integrity in its cocoa supply chains. Storck claims that ‘sustainable management is an integral part of our values and actions’ but really it is demonstrating is the exact opposite. We demand tangible action, not hollow rhetoric, to align with the true spirit of responsible and ethical business practices,” she noted, as campaigners invited a representative of Storck to them them at the Amsterdam Cocoa Week, which was reportedly declined by the business.

Julian Oram, Senior Director at Mighty Earth also expressed his concern at the situation. He said: “As one of the most profitable chocolate companies in the world, Storck’s token efforts in tackling issues such as child labour and deforestation within its cocoa supply chains is unacceptable. The glaring incongruity between the company’s billion-dollar profits and cocoa farmers’ wages, who are the backbone of its cocoa production, is nothing short of exploitation. Storck must raise its game by publishing detailed information of where it sources its cocoa beans from, actively monitor to ensure there’s no deforestation happening in those areas, and pay farmers a fair price for cocoa grown sustainably.”

In response, Storck confirmed that it has been certified for over a decade according to the internationally recognised social standard SA8000 of the non-profit organisation Social Accountability International (SAI). As the business noted, this framework covers essential topics such as child labour, occupational health and safety, working hours, freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, remuneration and an adequately management system.

Furthermore, the business added that it is a member of the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO), and that it remained committed to fair wages, living income and  deforestation-free supply chains.


Related content

One response to “Protesters’ petition calls on Storck confectionery to enhance action on child labour and deforestation”

  1. Anna says:

    This is only looking at cocoa. What other commodities are in Storcks supply chain and how are they produced. Does the company apply the same requirements, scrutiny and transparency to all its materials. Cane and beet sugar, nuts, dairy, shea, palm oil, coconut?

Leave a reply

Confectionery Production