Blog Post #1
Economic side of Production- Powerbars
You pay $2.39 for a Powerbar. How much does the laborer get from your pocket?
Child Labor and Nestle video
It’s a long Tuesday.
There is no time for the Cafeteria. The next best option is the Restore. Let’s see…something quick, filling, healthy, and tasty. There it is—the Powerbar.
You pay $2.39. The price does not even matter at that point.
However, does the price matter somewhere else or to someone else?
How much does the laborer get paid to open cacao pods all day with a machete in the Ivory Coast? How do they combat their opposition for forest clearings due to palm oil exports? How can they see their children and tell them they barely make ends meet?
Many of the ingredients and resources needed to produce a Powerbar are found in countries “abundant” in cacao, soy, palm oil and sugar. In many ways, the excessive use and exploitation of laborers affects the economic stability of a community and the global economy.
Nestle, one of the biggest multinational chocolate producers and owner of Powerbar, recently agreed to let the Fair Labor Association (FLA) trace and assess their cocoa supply chain. More than a third of the cocoa around the world comes from the Ivory Coast in West Africa; yet, many of the laborers in the Ivory Coast live in poverty. There are local Ivory Coast individuals like Jean in From bean to bar: Why chocolate will never taste the same again who inherit land but gain little to no profit from it. Some of the poorest rural regions have these coffee and cocoa plantations, but they are easily exploited. The growers are positioned at the bottom of the cocoa value chain. Therefore, workers only see a small proportion of the profit gained from Nestle’s supply of bars containing chocolate. The local governments and nation-state politicians know the troubles with implementing higher working standards for cocoa workers. In this video, Quest talks with Prime Minister Daniel Duncan about the income of cocoa farmers in the Ivory Coast. In addition, take into consideration that the annual GDP per capita in the Ivory Coast is a little over $1,000. How is it that the GDP per capita is so low in a place where cocoa holds up 3.5 million people?
Farmers prefer to hire children since they cannot afford to pay adults. However, Nestle is slowly recognizing its power and position in positively impacting the lives of workers in cocoa plantations. Nestlé’s article, Nestle Action Plan on the Responsible Sourcing of Cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire shares the 11 recommendations the FLA believes will eradicate child labor from the cocoa supply. Nestle believes this will produce greater returns.
Nestle’s Responsible Sourcing Guideline has approached ways to implement international standards to their supplier code. On the other hand, there are still products in the Powerbar other than cocoa that need more in depth investigation. For example, there is the still questioning of where Nestlé’s palm oil comes from. The cheapest vegetable oil is palm oil, and it is even considered “green”. Nestle has been publicly humiliated for its consumption of palm oil. Although Nestle reports that it has stopped purchasing from Indonesian palm oil growers or any other damaging markets, it still acquires palm oil from private markets. Rumble in the Jungle uncovers Nestle’s purchasing of palm oil tanks from Rotterdam’s spot market. Rotterdam does not report an origin of its palm oil; they claim to be untraceable. It is that easy for Nestle to remove its bad reputation. As long as it is not directly connected to damaging markets, it can claim “blissful ignorance”. This is just a touch of make-up for Nestle. The demand for palm oil is high, so Nestle continues to purchase from third-party suppliers.
The production of Powerbars in the economic realm is questionable. There is enough evidence to support that laborers are receiving the bare minimum or nothing at all due to their little or no bargaining power.