On Monday Channel 4's Dispatches programme focused on the operations of Mondelez in Ghana. You might be forgiven for asking, 'And who or what is Mondelez?' It's Mondelez International, one of the two foreign companies which eventually gobbled up our pioneering ethically inspired chocolate industry - consisting of the three Quaker founded firms of Fry's from Bristol, Cadbury's from Birmingham and Rowntree's from York. The first two are now part of Mondelez (annual profits £3.3bn), and Rowntree's part of Nestlés (annual profits £13.8bn).
From Channel 4 programme
In the programme, 'Cadbury Exposed', Antony Barnett visited the farms which supply Mondelez, i.e. Cadbury, with the cocoa, some of which goes into Cadbury's Creme Eggs and Dairy Milk bars. Mondelez claims to be an ethical producer. 'Mondelēz, which made global profits last year of more than £3.3bn, has a sustainability programme, Cocoa Life. Its logo is marked on its products, including Cadbury Dairy Milk, and its website states: “No amount of child labour in the cocoa supply chain should be acceptable”' (Observer, 2nd April 2022).
In fact the cocoa farmers are forced to use child workers as young as ten, as they themselves are paid only £2 a day and therefore cannot afford to hire adult workers. And this by a company that makes a profit of £3.3,000,000,000 a year. I think the most effective way to make Cadbury's (aka Mondelez) live up to their Cocoa Life claim by paying their farmers a fair rate would be to boycott their products and buy truly fairly traded chocolates - which can bought on the high street from the cheapest to the poshest shops. See https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/media-centre/blog/15-fairtrade-chocolate-choices-you-can-find-on-the-high-street/. My favourite local coffee shop also supplies The Real Easter Egg products. I gather commercial firms mind a bit when their custom drops.
On the same day as the programme the government announced its plans to sell off the admirable Channel 4. The reason it wants to is opaque. Although publicly owned, it costs us and the government nothing as it's financed by advertising. The Secretary of State says it needs to compete with the 'new online platforms' like Netflix. That it can't is far from obvious. It seems to have very creative staff, producing programmes of variety and independence. I wonder if I'm alone in wondering whether the latter is the real motive for privatization - as well as the cash it would contribute a welcome boost to the stressed coffers of the Exchequer. I for one can't see a commercial tv company wanting to commission such investigative programmes or encouraging the probing interviews which are the hallmark of Channel 4 news. Perhaps the real reason for the government's vendetta against Channel 4 is the discomfort that ministers often experience at the hands of interviewers - or avoid.