Channel 4 Dispatches has revealed Cadburys has profited from child labour, with children as young as 10 being filmed carrying out dangerous and illegal work in gruelling conditions on cocoa farms in Ghana.

Cadbury Exposed: Dispatches, which is set to air on Monday, April 4 at 8pm, has undertaken an undercover investigation into Cadbury’s supply chain and discovered evidence of illegal child labour on a number of farms that supply Cadbury’s Cocoa Life programme – a scheme designed to reassure consumers its chocolate comes from ethical sources.

Earlier this year, Channel 4 Dispatches travelled to Ghana in West Africa after receiving information that child labour was being used on farms linked to Cadbury.

The Northern Echo: (Dispatches: Channel 4)(Dispatches: Channel 4)

The Dispatches team went undercover as researchers examining the impact of climate change in order to gain access to the farms and document evidence.

Child labour is a sensitive subject in Ghana and its laws ban children under 13 working on farms and prohibit anybody under 18 from doing so-called “hazardous work” which is considered by the UN’s International Labour Organisation as the “worst forms of child labour”.

Cadbury is owned by the US food giant Mondelez International and both companies strongly promote Cocoa Life stating: “We believe the work of children is education and play, no amount of child labour in the cocoa supply chain should be acceptable.”


Evidence revealed that Cocoa Life farmers earn less than £2 a day, meaning they cannot afford to hire adult workers and must rely on children.

Conversations had with child workers suggested that children are being removed from their families to work on farms against their will. Evidence also suggests they are prohibited from attending school.

Dispatches filmed both openly and with secret cameras, as reporter Anthony Barnett spoke to Cocoa Life farmers.

The farmers Dispatches spoke to would only earn around £80 per bag of cocoa beans and this year are likely to pick no more than 8 bags.

Despite this amount, each bag has enough cocoa beans to help produce around 4000 bars of Dairy Milk.

Barnett spoke to two daughters of one Cocoa Life farmer who had both been badly injured on the farm – one of the girls had sliced her foot open whilst using a long machete and her 10-year old sister had been bitten by a poisonous snake.

The farmer told Dispatches he couldn’t afford immediate medical treatment and had to get a loan before he could take them to the hospital.

Cadbury set up Cocoa Life in 2012 to help “communities in cocoa regions” and Mondelez International adopted the scheme which – amongst other things - aims to “tackle farmer poverty and child labour”.

 Ayn Riggs, the founder of Slave Free Chocolate, has campaigned to end child labour in the chocolate industry for many years.

Riggs described the evidence obtained by Dispatches as “horrifying” and called on Cadbury to act.

 She said: “The part which really enrages me is these chocolate companies promise to clean this up over 20 years ago. And haven't they admitted that they knew it was going on? They admitted that they knew they were profiting from child labour, and they have shirked their promises not just to these children, but to everybody in the world.”

The Northern Echo: (Dispatches: Channel 4)(Dispatches: Channel 4)

Riggs added: “If they really wanted to stamp out child labour, there's an easy first step that they haven't done yet, which is paying the farmers a lot more for their beans. Mondelez made last year, made over $4 billion in profit, so the money is there. But on the farms, these farmers can't afford to replace their children with an adult labourer.”

 And she called on British consumers to send a message to the chief executive of Mondelez, Dirk Van de Put, who earned some $18m last year.

 She said: “If we choose not to buy Cadbury products, that message will go straight to the CEO of Mondelez. And that in turn, will force them to rethink their policies and begin to treat these farmers properly.”

Dispatches attempted to interview Mr Van de Put but he refused.

Instead in a statement, Mondelez said: “We are deeply concerned by the incidents documented in Dispatches. We explicitly prohibit child labour in our operations and have been making significant efforts through our Cocoa Life programme to improve the protection of children in the communities where we source cocoa. We strongly refute any allegation that Mondelez benefits from child labour, which we have relentlessly taken a stand against.

“The welfare of the children and families featured is our primary concern and we commit to investigating further. As part of our Cocoa Life programme, we have Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems in place which means community members and NGO partners are trained to provide assistance to vulnerable children, and help to address any cases of child labour.” 

Cadbury Exposed: Dispatches will air on Channel 4 at 8pm on Monday, April 4.