How ethical is your favourite chocolate?

We don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but palm oil, it’s in everything. It’s in cooking oil, cereals, shampoo, soaps and – sweet tooths take note – it’s in chocolate.

To create palm oil, palm fruits on trees are harvested and processed into edible oils used for cooking and processed for foods and products. You may have heard about the environmental impact from expanding palm oil plantations but do you know about the appalling working conditions of many workers who harvest palm oil – including children?

Last year, Amnesty uncovered severe exploitation of labour rights on palm oil plantations owned by Wilmar International, which sells to many household brands including Nestlé. Wilmar controls more than 43 per cent of the global palm oil trade and the company’s revenue in 2015 was close to US$40 billion.

It’s just not good enough for major corporations to put profit before human rights, and you can help bring Wilmar into line. Make sure you pick the good choccies over the bad and show your support for human rights at the checkout too.

The good ‘uns


You can literally taste the happiness of supply-chain fairness in every square of this Adelaide-based chocolate. Their products are palm-oil free and in 2014 Haigh’s became the first Australian-owned chocolate manufacturer to achieve international UTZ certification for the use of ethically and sustainably farmed cocoa beans. Haigh’s operate retail stores throughout Australia.

Alter Eco Pacific

Say yes to organic, fair trade and carbon neutral (surely that makes them better for our waistlines too, right?!), and to flavours like salted burnt caramel and mint truffle. Available at Oxfam stores, select health food stores and some Coles shops – check out this handy store locator for your nearest.

Chocolatier Australia

Also a great pick. Be mindful though that only some of their chocolates are certified fair trade, so check the labelling on each product first. Get your fix at the Chocolatier Shop in Ivanhoe Victoria, David Jones and selected fine food supermarkets around the country.

The bad ‘uns


Nestlé is one of those mega-company beasts that owns thousands of brands/pretty much most of the world. With such power and profit, it’s disappointing that Nestlé often fails to do even the most basic checks on the human rights standards of the palm oil they use in their chocolate (and other products).

According to its website, Nestlé is committed to using 100 per cent responsibly-sourced palm oil by 2020.


Magnum is owned by Unilever, another monster of a global corporation turning a blind eye to exploitation of workers in their supply chain – and like Nestlé they also source their palm oil from Wilmar plantations.

Corporate giants like Unilever assure consumers that their products use ‘sustainable palm oil’, but there is nothing sustainable about palm oil that is produced using child labour and forced labour.

Check out Ethical Shopper’s full guide to ethical chocolate.

What supporters are saying

  1. Marguerite crompton
    16 April 2017 | 10:33 pm

    Please end child exploitation

  2. Raymond
    18 April 2017 | 9:07 pm

    not just chocolate but also coffee is ruining the enviroment and using forced labour

  3. Leon Arundell
    28 April 2017 | 4:27 pm

    Your claim that “ice cream [i]s pretty much just palm oil” damages your credibility. The main products listed for Streets Magnum, in sequence, are “Dairy ingredients (reconstituted skim milk and/or buttermilk, milk solids, cream) cane sugar, cocoa components^ (cocoa mass, cocoa butter, cocoa powder), glucose syrup (from wheat), coconut oil, vegetable oil, emulsifiers (471, soybean lecithin) flavours, stabilisers (410, 407), colours (100, 160b, 120), malt extract (from barley) . As I understand it, under Australian law the ingredients must be listed in order of relative content. That means that “vegetable oil” (which may include palm oil) is in a lower proportion than Dairy ingredients, cane sugar, cocoa components, glucose syrup and coconut oil. Source:

  4. Carla Henderson
    28 April 2017 | 4:34 pm

    Ethical chocolate is not only free from palm oil and child labour…it should be free from cruelty to animals. Plant based chocolate is the answer….no dairy, child labour or palm oil!

  5. Ahmah Adams
    28 April 2017 | 4:59 pm

    As a Mother I absolutely do not agree using child labour for manufacturing products and will stop using these products.

  6. Kerry Mulholland
    28 April 2017 | 4:59 pm

    Palm oil plantations and deforestation are another way we are wrecking our environment. Stop such wasteful practices- use sustainable ethical practices.

  7. Susan Kelly
    28 April 2017 | 7:42 pm

    in many countries children may have to work to support the family, but we need to have our eyes opened to their exploitation by profit-making giants who are dollar-driven at all cost

  8. Margaret
    28 April 2017 | 8:11 pm

    I love chocolate, but I hate child labour and exploitation. Please source your cocoa morally.

  9. Julia Famlonga
    28 April 2017 | 9:53 pm

    I stopped buying Cadbury chocolates a long time ago because of the poor quality ……… and then they started marking their products as “halal”. Does that mean that the cocoa beans were killed while facing Mecca? The only chocolate I buy nowadays is Lindt. I used to buy Nestle, but they have been receiving bad press lately ……… buying ground water from poor communities for a pittance. And now you’ve added them to the “bad ‘uns” list regarding palm oil ……… another good reason to boycott their products. We have ONE planet with finite resources. We need to nurture our planet instead of constantly raping and pillaging in the name of profit.

  10. Wendy Pearson
    29 April 2017 | 2:26 am

    End child exploitation, pay workers a living wage, and stop using unsubstainable palm oil. Until you take these steps, I will not be using any of your products. And, yes, I do read the ingredients on everything I buy.

  11. Diddy FitzGerald
    29 April 2017 | 8:39 am

    Just me maybe but child imprisonment,. handcuffing tear gassing sexual abuse and bullying by Australian prison guards in a “so called’ civilised country seems worse

  12. Stephanie
    29 April 2017 | 11:07 am

    Child labour abuse is not ok, please stop this

  13. Susan Kepner
    30 April 2017 | 6:45 am

    How can we make this information more public?

  14. Tim R
    30 April 2017 | 10:08 am

    It is such a shame that a brand i grew up loving, now just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  15. Lesley Labram
    30 April 2017 | 8:05 pm

    Stop child labour and pay employees a fair wage

  16. Caroline Quinlivan
    1 May 2017 | 5:50 am

    Information appreciated

  17. Dennis Wang
    1 May 2017 | 12:05 pm

    Please end child exploitation

  18. Jan Britton
    2 May 2017 | 12:16 pm

    What a disgrace ! Whatever happened to children’s rights..and compassion,a humanitarian responsibility for all countries & companies

  19. Tracie Bunker
    7 May 2017 | 1:26 pm

    Nestle and Magnum – shame on you!

  20. Kate McBride
    12 May 2017 | 9:58 pm

    Stop exploiting children

  21. Thao Pham
    2 September 2017 | 6:26 pm

    No child labour!

  22. leah driver
    2 March 2018 | 1:20 pm

    children shouldn’t be put through these things at such an early age

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