Candy giant Mars exposed for using cocoa harvested by kids in Ghana

Chocolate giant Mars is exposed for using cocoa harvested by children as young as FIVE with machetes in Ghana where they earn as little as $115 a YEAR

  • A new report claims Mars candy cocoa suppliers use child labor in the field
  • Video shows small kids carrying machetes and harvesting cocoa beans
  • The M&M manufacturer said it has a plan to end child labor in its supply

Mars, the maker of some of America’s most beloved candies, has been exposed for using child labor to harvest cocoa beans in Ghana, a new bombshell report found.

CBS News visited Ghana’s remote cocoa belt and found children as young as five working on farms that supply the chocolate giant – despite the company’s pledge to protect children.

Shocking footage shows small children carrying machetes into the fields, with one nearly taking his fingers off as he hacked open a cocoa pod. 

The M&M and Snickers manufacturer said it has a monitoring system to keep children in schools – but CBS News obtained copies of the list and confirmed that some of the kids were working in the fields.

‘Personally, I’ve made up lists before. And I can say on authority that almost every data, almost every data is cooked,’ said one cocoa field supervisor.

A CBS News report found children who were listed as attending school were actually working to harvest cocoa beans

Even children that do attend school carry machetes with them to harvest before and after class

Field supervisors contracted by Mars gave children backpacks and school books with the phrase ‘I am a child, I play, I go to school’ on them

Munira, 15, is one of those children listed as in school but still working in the cocoa fields.

She said last year she was visited by field supervisors contracted by Mars who gave her a backpack and school books with the phrase ‘I am a child, I play, I go to school’ printed on them.

‘I feel sad. I want to be, like, a medical doctor, but my family doesn’t have money for school,’ said Munira.

She said last year her family was only able to harvest one 140 pound bag of decent-quality cocoa which earned them just $115. 

The reporter spoke with other children named on the list and all said they do not attend school – and that no one has come to check if they do. 

CBS News found in some cases names on the list were made up. They visited one farm where a child was listed as the farmer’s daughter, but does not exist.

Even children who do attend classes carry machetes with them to go work in the fields before and after school. 

The company, led by CEO Poul Weihrauch, was founded in 1911 by the Mars family which has become one of the wealthiest families in the world.

According to its Protecting Children Action Plan, Mars said it supports providing farmers with livable wages.

‘Mars supports the Living Income Differential of $400 per metric ton announced by the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in July 2019 to ensure that farmers receive a higher income.’ 

‘The governments have also indicated that, from the 2020/2021 main crops, 70% of a $2,600 per metric ton minimum price will be paid to farmers for their cocoa.’ 

An M&M plant in New Jersey. A report found children as young as five years old were harvest cocoa beans for the M&M manufacturer 

The company, lead by CEO Poul Weihrauch (pictured), was founded in 1911 by the Mars family which has become one of the wealthiest families in the world

In a statement to CBS in response to the report, a Mars spokesman said: ‘Our cocoa suppliers in Ghana have agreed to adhere to our robust Supplier Code of Conduct and we have also been clear that they must have a Child Labor and Remediation System (CLMRS) in place by 2025 that complies with the industry leading International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) standard.  

‘Over 65 percent of our cocoa supply in West Africa is already covered by CLMRS which is implemented by our suppliers on the ground, with audits conducted by certification bodies as part of Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certification requirements.’

The company added: ‘Mars unequivocally condemns the use of child labor. We are also transparent in saying that we know that more needs to be done and we continue to work diligently with parties across the cocoa sector to further help advance respect for human rights in the cocoa supply chain.’

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