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CNN cocoa documentary and discussion

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press releaseCNN cocoa documentary and discussion


Nestlé is highlighted throughout the documentary.  A Crunch bar is used in the opening of the segment as a visual prop illustrating the supply chain, and then continually as a reference point. 

The opening vignette discusses the prevalence of child labour, quoting a figure of 800,000 children working in the cocoa industry. 

CNNi cuts to the first interview segment with Mr. Lopez addressing the industry’s slow response to known child labour issues. 

From this point, the segment transitions to focus on Nestlé’s efforts to prevent child labour at the local level, stimulate the economy and provide solutions to farmers. Nestlé is clearly highlighted as a leader in the effort to improve cocoa growing conditions.

I would like to pay tribute to the huge efforts by Peggy Diby, head of corporate communications in CWAR, Fleur Tchibota from corporate communications in Côte d’Ivoire and their team there, Serigne Diop from R&D Abidjan and his team and Darrell High from the confectionary SBU.  Without their hard work the film would not have been nearly as well made or as positive for Nestlé.


Below is a summary of Nestlé visibility in the documentary:

  • José Lopez is featured multiple times throughout the segment.
  • Child labour reform began in 2011, when Nestlé mapped out its supply chain. The conclusion: Child Labour is still a reality in the cocoa supply chain. “Because of Nestlé’s size, the company was well-placed to make a difference.”
  • “The company has pledged $120M, over a ten-year period, for its sustainable cocoa plan: to stop child labour, create a sustainable supply of quality cocoa, improve the lives of farmers.”
  • José Lopez: “If things continue in the same way, the supply of cocoa will cease to exist. To continue farming cocoa and do so in a sustainable manner, we (Nestlé) must look beyond what we thought was our responsibility. We have to do something; this is a business case.”
  • The segment visits Nestlé headquarters in Abidjan, and looks at how Nestlé is distributing cocoa plants to produce higher yields and be more disease-resistant: dubbed “high-performance trees.”
  • By 2022, Nestlé plans to give 12MM high-performance trees to farmers.
  • While some major chocolate manufacturers are moving to a 100% supply of certified beans only by 2020, Nestlé is not making the same promise. Richard Quest presses this issue with José. Nestlé is more committed to making sustainability progress year-after-year.
  • José Lopez meets with The Ivory Coast’s First Lady to discuss child labour. Nestlé sees education as a means of combatting the cycle of child labour, and has built 23 schools, with 17 more in the pipeline. “Nestlé will not sacrifice the long-term goal (end child labour) for short-term gains.” “Nestlé needs to build capacity in the farmers, to do a better job at improving their yield, to protect their crops from diseases. We (Nestlé) need to see prosperity entering these villages, and to do that, it takes time and patience. Nestlé and the farmers have the patience to do that (together).”
  • “(At the end of the day) Nestlé is a company and must make profit, but we (Nestlé) believe that taking this approach will guarantee a sustainable future and improve working conditions for farmers.”


Paul Bulcke key points during panel discussion:

  • Nestlé focuses on “shared value”: “If a farmer has truly better farm techniques, truly better planning, if he has higher yield and a better-quality product, he ultimately gets a better price and has a more-stable income. (Nestlé) thinks this is the right way to go. We, as a company, need quality raw materials; cocoa is one of them. We have to do this together.”


After this 1-hr. segment, Quest conducted an on-air interview with Claudia Coenjaerts, CEO, Fair Labor Association, regarding how companies like Nestlé are “making significant strides” towards combating child labor.


Key points from interview:

  • Nestlé coming forward on the issue of child labour means three things:
    • Proves the need for conformity throughout the cocoa industry to make a meaningful and permanent impact
    • Signifies courage from Nestlé for addressing the root of the child labor issue; Nestlé has addressed poor education by building schools in local communities
    • Signifies leadership: “Nestlé has chosen to not go for the band aid approach, but for accountability and transparency.”
    • Other chocolate companies have also made progress in addressing these issues; 10 years ago there was an industry-wide refusal to accept that there was a serious problem in the supply chain. Now, there in a commitment to change, and companies have started to limit their supplies by sourcing their product from only certified suppliers (certified meaning child labor not used in farming or processing of cocoa plants). Similarly, other chocolate companies are engaging in broader issues: sensitization, education programs and social services.
    • Nestlé separate themselves from other chocolate companies because they concentrate on transparency and accountability, “A very forward-looking approach.”
    • Consumers should keep pressure on food companies to be transparent when it comes to labeling foods. Similarly, consumers should educate themselves on the root cause of these issues (child labour, etc.)
    • Significant and permanent change to these issues will be patience and pressure from consumers.