Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween/Fair Trade Chocolate - 'Reverse Trick or Treating' Push to Educate North American Consumers

Thousands of children in over 250 cities in the U.S. and Canada are participating this week in “reverse trick or treating,” giving away tens of thousands of samples of Fair Trade Certified™ dark chocolate. The effort across North America is designed to call attention to the persistent problems of chronic poverty in cocoa-growing communities, abysmal working conditions, and the use of exploited child labor in Africa’s Ivory Coast – which produces 40 percent of the world’s cocoa.

To make arrangements to cover children as they “they reverse trick or treat” in cities across North America, contact: Yochi Zakai, Co-op America, 202-872-5302 and yochi@coopamerica.org.

The “Reverse Trick or Treating” program has joined human and labor rights groups, such as Co-op America, Global Exchange and the International Labor Rights Fund to raise awareness with children and grownups about Fair Trade Certified chocolate as a solution to poverty and labor abuses in the cocoa industry. The Reverse Trick-or-Treat campaign is an initiative of Global Exchange and run by Co-op America, both leaders in promoting Fair Trade business and products. Co-op America’s mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—and create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.

The Fair Trade Chocolate that will be handed out is provided by Equal Exchange, a full service provider of high quality, organic coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate and healthy snacks to grocery stores, restaurants and places of worship nationwide. Fully 100 percent of Equal Exchange products are fairly traded, benefiting over 40 small farmer co-operatives in 16 countries around the world. In keeping with its Fair Trade mission Equal Exchange is a worker co-operative, owned and democratically controlled by its employees.

For more information, visit http://www.reversetrickortreating.org on the Web.

CONTACTS: Yochi Zakai, Co-op America, 202-872-5302 and yochi@coopamerica.org.


US consumers eat 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate annually, representing nearly half the world’s supply. The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture for USAID has estimated that 284,000 children work in abusive child labor conditions on cocoa farms in West Africa, the world’s largest cocoa producer, and that 64% of those children are under 14 years old. Through the 2001 Harkin-Engel Protocol, politicians and advocacy groups have pressured chocolate companies to identify and eliminate any usage of child labor in the growing and processing of cocoa beans. The cocoa industry however has not met the substantive benchmarks for eradicating abusive child labor or improving conditions on cocoa farms, despite repeated promises. A recently conducted study, commissioned by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, details how little progress the industry has made towards these goals. The study will be released the week after Halloween.

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