Monday, 22 October 2012


Above is a picture of Europe's first M&M's World® store which is in London’s Leicester Square.

The official blurb says it is ‘Dedicated to the colourful fun of M&M's®…’

The company behind it, Mars, states that it is committed in ensuring that their “…actions should never be at the expense, economic or otherwise, of others who we work with. We strongly believe that only success that is shared can be sustained and it is our goal to achieve this in all we do.”

As the makers of some of the world's most-loved confectionery products, they are a major user of cocoa, and “for over 30 years Mars has supported cocoa sustainability.”

Really? At what cost? By that, I do not mean to them, but from a humanitarian point of view. Yes, we can read their claim that they were “…the first global chocolate company to commit to sourcing only certified cocoa, and we will do so by 2020.”  They go on to proudly claim that as of June this year, all MALTESERS® in the UK and Ireland will carry the Fair Trade logo.” My, that does sound good.

Well first this is 2012, not 2020. And secondly, Mars is a company that is behind a great deal more products than just MALTESERS®.

So let us look at some of the facts.

Côte d’Ivoire (The Ivory Coast of West Africa) produces 43% of the world’s chocolate. Due to increased poverty, changing traditions, and corrupt governments, Africa is rampant with child slavery in many areas, and there are currently around 300,000 children who are enslaved in the cocoa, coffee, and cotton industries.

You read that right. 300,000 child slaves (not forgetting the adult ones). And this is the year 2012.

These children are subject to the most horrible conditions, abuse, and punishment for any resistance, in little or no way similar to the abhorrent treatment that went on in the plantations during the Transatlantic Salve Trade. It is not unknown for a child (some as young as 7 years old) to have their feet chopped off in order to prevent them running away.

All of the major chocolate manufacturers are fully aware of the atrocities occurring daily on the many cocoa plantations in West Africa; Mars/M&M's being one of them, along with Hershey’s and Nestlé.

On September the 19th 2001 the Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed (including by Paul Michaels, the President of Mars/M&M’s) to ensure the end of child labour in all chocolate farms. The deadline for this to be completed was 2005. It was then put back to 2008, and then to 2010 (incidentaly, in that same year the revenue of Mars was $30 billion, a One-Year Growth of 7.1%).  This agreement still remains unfulfilled, and in fact, the 300,000 child slaves entrapped in the trade today is an increase on the figure as it stood in 2001, so the problem is getting worse, not better.

Fair Trade on a bag of MALTESERS® brought in the UK may sound a jolly decent thing. However, when one thinks of how much confectionary is sold around the World by the Mars Empire, does this statement of intent not seem a little empty of gesture, let alone to be one truly embodying considerable change?

Besides, the simple fact is that we the consumers have no sure way of knowing if the chocolate we are buying has been tainted with the blood of child slaves, and it was only in 2010 that the founders of the Fair Trade Certification process had to suspend several of their West African suppliers due to evidence that they were using child labour. This is something that these huge corporations seem more than happy to continue ignoring, which they will continue to do because we continue to be happy buying.

Drissa, a recently freed cocoa slave who, like most of those who farm the cocoa for our consumption, had never even tasted chocolate, was asked what he would tell the people who eat chocolate made from slave labour, he replied: “When people eat chocolate they are eating my flesh.”

That is the truth behind Europe's first M&M's World® store in London’s Leicester Square, so dedicated to the colourful fun of M&M's®…’ It is coloured with the blood, sweat and suffering of children.

Suddenly, that treat doesn’t taste so sweet.


  1. Many thanks for this, Giles. Well worth sharing - the blog, that is!

    1. Thank you Vernal. It is indeed something that needs to be talked about more - we need to bang the drum!

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  3. Thanks for a well-written and enlightening post, G.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment P.

  4. Giles your writing and your words are such an eye opener, will be sharing and as a lover of chocolate leaves a very horrid taste...

    1. Thank you my lovely Nadia. I know this is one of my more hard-hitting thoughts here, but needs to be out there more than ever. Slavery is the greatest crime of humanity, and should have been consigned to world history long ago. Sharing is good - thank you - we all need to 'bang the drum'. GX

  5. I knew there was a reason why I don't eat chocolate, I just didn't know that this was the reason. Wow.

    1. I greatly appreciate you reading this, and your comment. Humble gratitude to you.

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  7. And from facebook:

    Jack White: I am glad you passed this over
    I am also very sensitive about this kind.
    It's absolutely awful
    Facebook should be about this as well as other things
    Thanks for sharing

    Markus Tiberius Rudland: I tried to comment, but it wouldnt let me

    Morag Malcolm: My comment disappeared too! I have shared and commented on that now though! xx

    Lesley McIver Stretton: sickeningly sweet. Sorry I can't comment either due to settings on my work laptop xx

    Ameera Daiman: i wonder if my comment showed up!

    Rina Gill: Excellent attitude changing piece. Well done Giles, you have a marvelous style and a lot of passion.

    Adonis O'Holi: Sharing knowledge is key and fundamental in ensuring that the people who live the good life on the backs of those they make to suffer, comes to an end.
    Thanks for sharing Giles :)