28 March 2024

Check out how your favourite Easter treat stacks up on this year's Chocolate Scorecard

| Zoe Cartwright
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A pink, blue and yellow pastel easter egg flecked with the other colours.

If you’re going to splurge this Easter, splurge on quality, not quantity, Chocolate Scorecard authors recommend. Photo: Emma Bickley.

We all love cracking into some choccie eggs over Easter – but do you spare a thought for what goes into those foil-wrapped packets of bliss?

Child labor, dodgy pay and environmental destruction can be not-so-sweet surprises that come with your favourite treat.

Some brands do better than others, but due to misleading advertising, much like a box of chocolates, it’s hard to know what you’re going to get.

Luckily, a team of academics have stepped in to do the job for you, sorting through the chocolate industry and supply chain to issue report cards for brands and retailers just in time for Easter.

The Chocolate Scorecard, now in its fifth year, evaluates global chocolate traders, manufacturers, brands, and retailers against seven markers: Traceability and Transparency, Living Income, Child Labour, Gender Equality, Deforestation and Climate, Agroforestry, and Agri-Chemical Management.

A traffic light system is used to rank retailers and manufacturers – green, yellow, orange, red or grey for their overall progress towards these categories.

READ ALSO Sarah’s sweet dream comes true as ethical chocolate melts hearts in Gerringong

Associate Professor Stephanie Perkiss from the University of Wollongong’s School of Accounting, Finance and Economics is part of the international team behind the scorecard, and said it helps consumers cut through the spin when it comes to buying ethically.

“Some people buy chocolate without knowing about the abuses that occur in the industry; other people are ethically aware but get overwhelmed by the number of concerns,” she said.

“The scorecard offers a one-stop shop, accounts for about 90 per cent of the world’s chocolate companies and makes it easy for people to make a better decision about the chocolate they buy.”

Stephanie said researchers wanted to support the chocolate industry to do better, and the best way for consumers to do that was to keep buying chocolate, but buy better.

What that looks like depends on your budget, and the scorecard makes it easy for shoppers to compare products at a similar price point and see which companies are doing a better job of caring for their employees and the planet.

“Some of the leaders are a little more expensive, maybe a dollar or two a block,” she said.

“To splurge a bit on quality rather than quantity is probably better for the industry and our own health, but Mars, Ferrero, Lindt and Whittakers are all getting better in traceability, transparency and child labor policies.

“Across the board retailers really need to pick up their game, but Aldi was the leader in the Australian retailer field for own-branded chocolate products.”

READ ALSO Five minutes with Lisa Jackson, Berkeley Cakes and Pies

Among manufacturers, Toney’s Chocolonely came in top of the pops as an industry leader across all measures, and at $6.40 a block from Coles it’s only 40c more than a block of Cadburys of the same size.

Stephanie said changing the industry would take time, but transparency and accountability were the best way to start.

Child labour was an example of an issue that was more complicated than it looked.

“There are instances of forced child labour, but in West Africa there are also families with children who work on the farm,” she said.

“That’s a really valuable way of passing along knowledge, but we want to make sure those children are getting an education, being supported to build their skillset and they’re not being exposed to harmful pesticides.

“We don’t want to put them further into poverty; we want to support them because they are the future of the industry.”

Check out the full scorecard ahead of your Easter shopping here.

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