FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2013
lauren Ornelas, Executive Director
Tel: (530) 848-4021
Groups call on Clif Bar to increase transparency in chocolate sourcing
Cotati, CA, July 23, 2013—Citing the prevalence of the worst forms of child labor, including slavery, in the West African cocoa industry, a group of labor, consumer, and human rights organizations are calling on Clif Bar, Inc., to join the growing list of companies that disclose the country of origin of the chocolate they sell.
To date, Clif has refused to do the same, claiming such information is proprietary; however, dozens of other companies have made such disclosures, ranging from small operations like Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates to much larger corporate labels like Kirkland (CostCo). Even companies that use various certification systems will disclose country of origin.
“Clif makes a lot of products people want, but its foot-dragging on transparency does all of us a disservice. People want to know what, exactly, they’re supporting with their purchases,” notes Food Empowerment Project Executive Director lauren Ornelas. “It also doesn’t make a lot of sense: you would imagine Clif would want to be at least as transparent as CostCo.”
The problems are serious and widespread. More than 1.8 million children work on cacao farms in West Africa, according to a 2011 Tulane University study, and both investigations and firsthand accounts detail harsh, exploitative working conditions, including forced labor.
“The facts are clear, widely acknowledged, and have spurred many consumers to avoid products that contain chocolate sourced from the region,” Ornelas adds. “On Clif’s own website, it claims that its supply chain program ‘ensures we know where our ingredients come from.’ All we are saying is: We want to know, too.”
In addition to Food Empowerment Project, the following groups are included on the letter: California Against Slavery, Community Food & Justice Coalition, International Labor Rights Forum, Organic Consumers Association, and Worksafe.
More information on Clif Bar’s transparency and labor issues in the West African cacao industry can be found here: http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-in-the-chocolate-industry/
About Food Empowerment Project
Founded in 2006, Food Empowerment Project seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices. We encourage healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, and the unavailability of healthy foods in low-income areas. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, F.E.P. is based in Cotati, Calif., and operated entirely by volunteers. For more information, please visit www.foodispower.org.