Blog Post #6
Social side of Consumption- Powerbars
How much Power do you give the Powerbar?
Powerbars are associated with athletes and in many cases people will even substitute an energy bar as a “healthy” meal option. Powerbars attract a large target market especially with all the specific types of bars it offers. To narrow it down, college-students and professors are among some of the biggest consumers of energy bars. They live fast-paced lives and are always on the go! When left with little time to eat, it can be easy to get a filling Powerbar. These small, packaged energy bars are easy to stuff in a backpack or purse. They are highly marketable and trendy especially when associated with personal health and exercise.
How much power do you have as a consumer over the purchase of a Powerbar? There are pitfalls and benefits to consumption in the social aspect. The consumer can end up being all about the product to the point of one of Karl Marx’s terms “commodity fetishism”. This will not necessarily happen with a Powerbar, but it can become a necessity. Consumption can separate the relationship between the consumer and laborer, or it could also create bondage.
Powerbars contain cocoa along with many other ingredients. The CNN Freedom Project highlights in their article From bean to bar: Why chocolate will never taste the same again how laborers in the village of Kouadio-Yaokro are a perfect example of the separation of laborer and consumer. Many Kouadio-Yaokro villagers do not know the cocoa they pick will be made into a Powerbar; many consumers do not know of the hands that picked the cocoa pods.
There are a variety of cases showing the separation of consumer and laborer; for instance, Nestle the owner of Powerbar has for many years dismissed the child labor in cocoa plantations. Also, many villagers picking the cocoa themselves have never tasted a piece of chocolate from Nestle products. A village elder was surprised by the sweetness of the bar in this video.
On the other hand, there could be bondage in consumption. Nestle has chosen to listen to the Fair Labor Association by turning the tables and eradicating child labor for the long-term. Nestle has claimed that they will work with The World Cocoa Foundation and the International Cocoa Initiative to raise awareness about the importance of education and government polices in rural communities.
You could give power to the Powerbar to change its supplier code and stick to its responsible sourcing guidelines, or you could give it power to keep harming rural communities.