Understanding Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate list

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Understanding Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate ListFood Empowerment Project publishes a list of companies that sell chocolates that we do and do not recommend. To make our list they have to make some vegan chocolates.

  1. To help people buy chocolate that does not involve the exploitation of human (children or adults) or non-human animals (such as cows and goats).
  2. To make sure consumers are informed about where companies stand on the issue.
  3. To encourage consumers to contact the companies and let them know how they feel!
Any companies that wish to change suppliers are provided with a list of wholesalers that make chocolate we do recommend.
Understanding our list
The list is made up of several categories:

Chocolate we feel comfortable recommending

The first category is pretty simple. These are companies that make some (if not all) vegan chocolates, as they do not include the suffering of non-human animals. They are transparent about the country of origin for their cacao beans and the beans were not sourced from areas where child labor and slavery are most pervasive or are from areas where companies are going above and beyond to support the workers and their families.

Includes companies that make some chocolate we recommend and some we do not. It will be important to look at the list of products under this category to be sure you are purchasing the ones we recommend.

Cannot recommend
These are companies that we know have been implicated in sourcing their cacao from farms located in areas where child labor and slavery are most pervasive.

Cannot recommend but are working on the issues in various ways

These are companies that responded to our request for information and are either under a particular certification, such as organic, and/or have indicated to us that they are aware of the slavery issue and care enough to work on it.

They are currently buying chocolate with the intention of not participating in child labor and slavery, but since they source from areas where the worst forms of child labor, including slavery are the most prevalent, we are not comfortable recommending them due to problems with various certifications.

Some of the companies that are using fair trade chocolate are not necessarily going to change suppliers, but they can be considered “informed” companies trying to do their part.
If they are using fair trade chocolate, then why aren’t they listed on our recommended list? It is unfortunate, but all certifications have been found to have problems. We acknowledge this might change, but for now, this is how they rank on our list.

Companies that are working with us to change suppliers are not listed.

Cannot recommend but at least responded

We list the companies that responded honestly but don’t make our list as they source from areas where the worst forms of child labor, including slavery, are the most pervasive.
Cannot recommend
companies that would not disclose their supplier (no transparency for customers).
Not disclosing where their chocolate is sourced from is really no different than those companies that did not respond at all. We do not ask for supplier contacts; we simply ask from which country they get their cacao beans. Wanting to hide the information is an insult to consumers who care about this issue.

Cannot recommend: companies that did not respond.

As simple as that. They did not respond to our request. We encourage consumers to reach out to their favorite company if they see them listed here.
How do we contact the companies?
Food Empowerment Project emails the companies requesting where they get their cacao beans. If there is no response, another email is sent after two weeks – forwarding the original request. After another week passes, the two reminders are sent again, this time with a link to our list, letting them know they will go on our non-response list if we do not hear back. After a week with no response, we put them on our website. If the response is “Switzerland,” “USA” or some other non-cacao-producing country known for its chocolate, another email is sent reminding them we are talking about the beans, not the chocolate.

We attempt to update our list (which is also available as an app) once a month.

We encourage people from all over the globe to send us the names of companies that make vegan chocolate products that are not already on our list; we will look into the company to see where they should be placed on our list.

Esta entrada tiene 58 comentarios

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you so much. I love this site because you understand that veganism should be more that about non-human animal cruelty but also that we should know that humans in the food production and commodity line should not be exploited and abused. PETA has a long list of food items they recommend that are 'vegan' and 'cruelty-free', but the trail of where the ingredients are sourced are certainly contingent upon human exploitation. They clearly recommend chocolate, sugar, etc products that are not even Fair Trade and they don't seem to even have anything about being careful about how your 'vegan' food comes from all forms of oppression.

  2. Cybele

    This is a great list and a great service.

    I would like to suggest a few other companies to research for the list: Valrhona (sold as an ingredient at Whole Foods plus in bars), Ritter Sport (their marzipan bar is on a lot of vegan lists), Cargill (Peter's Chocolate & Wilbur Chocolate) and the bean-to-bar artisan company Amano.

    Also, Chuao Chocolate uses El Rey as their source, should they be specified here?

    Finally, I would like to know at least generally what the open issues with a particular company might be. Something like "some products sourced from Ghana" or "some products sourced from Ivory Coast cooperative being investigated"

  3. lauren

    Thanks so much – we will look into these companies not currently on our list! We feel it might compromise the ease of using the list to include where each of the non-recommended companies get their cacao beans from, but feel free to email us at info(at)foodispower.org to ask about those companies you are interested in.

  4. Glers

    Thanks for this list , I have already written to 5 companies and will post 1 star reviews on Yelp, Google, Amazon and others sites to get them to respond and change their business practices

  5. lauren

    Thank you for writing the companies! They need to hear from dedication and compassionate people like you. Thank you!

  6. Rachel

    I am confused by Fair Trade versus FEP standards for chocolate. Sweet & Sara is listed as recommended by FEP, because their beans are not from Ivory Coast or Ghana, but they say they are not Fair Trade.

    Does this mean that you consider that the chocolate they use is free from enslavement issues although it is not fair trade?

    Is there a reason that you didn't base your recommendations o/include information about which companies use fair trade chocolate?

    Thank you for all your work, its so good to have a list of chocolate companies to support!

  7. lauren

    Rachel, thank you so much for asking us to clarify our list. At this time, F.E.P. does not recommend any chocolate that comes from West Africa – as child labor was even found in fair trade fields in Ghana (to their credit they took the children out and put them in school) but given this, it seems that slavery is too pervasive in these countries. Sweet & Sara has told us that they source their organic chocolate from Latin America.
    We have just posted some information on our website on fair trade: https://www.foodispower.org/fair_trade.htm. At this point, there is no clear indication of what fair trade really means when stamped on chocolate – is it fair trade because the chocolate is or because the sugar is?

    We do hope you find our chocolate list helpful!

  8. Cocoacopia

    I don't understand what "vegan" chocolate has to do with slavery or child labor issues. If the chocolate does or doesn't contain milk, what does this have to do with where or how it was produced? I am not a vegan, but I am concerned about buying slavery-free chocolate. I think these two separate issues have been conflated.

  9. lauren

    Thank you so much for your message and asking such an important question. First of all, we are so glad that you, like us are very concerned about the abuses taking place in West Africa and not wanting to contribute to it. Food Empowerment Project (www.foodispower.org) (we are the organization that created this list) works to encourage a more just food system so that one day nobody (human or nonhuman) will be exploited, oppressed or harmed by our food choices. Because of this, it is important for us to find slave-free, vegan chocolate since milk chocolate is also directly linked to the exploitation and suffering of animals.(treatment of cows raised for milk – https://www.foodispower.org/cows_milk.htm)

  10. Emily

    Where is Ghiradelli? I couldn't find them on the lists.

  11. lauren

    Hi, Emily,

    Thanks for your question. Ghiradelli has been owned by Lindt since 1998. We will add their name next to Lindt so people can find it easier. Thanks!

  12. Emily

    I have a chocolate bar called Sweetriot. Where does that fall on your list?

  13. lauren


    Thank you for recommending them! You should see them on our recommended list in the next few weeks!

  14. lauren


    Absolutely! We have many from New Zealand and Australia on our list and thank you for this suggestion – they will be on our list in the next few weeks under the recommended section!

  15. lauren

    Excellent! Thank you for these! We have contacted them and keep an eye out for when they appear on our list. Thank you!

  16. Unknown

    Could you comment on the World Cocoa Foundation and the Quality Partner Program by Barry Callebaut and whether these two initiatives are working effectively to combat child labor/slavery? I've seen some local comapanies that are claiming participation in these and would like to know if this is a good sign that the company be a good one to support.

    Thank you!

  17. lauren

    Thanks for your question. The problem with these initiatives is that they have accomplished very little. The farmers need to have more say than the corporations. Both of these seem to put more weight on profit. Other than Divine, we discourage people from buying chocolate that comes from West Africa. Thanks.

  18. Kevin Alex

    Thanks for such a great post and the review, i admire that absolutely amaze. Thanks and good luck.

    Thank You, Raani Chocolatier – Manufacturing Luxury Home Made Chocolates in Chennai

  19. Kim

    What about Green & Black's? They manufacture organic chocolate and some of their products are also labelled Fair Trade.

  20. lauren

    Hi, Kim,

    They did not respond to our email asking them about the country of origin, so they are on our list, just under did not respond. Because of this, we cannot recommend them. They might respond to you.

  21. Anonymous

    This is a very helpful list! It reminds me of the fish list (Seafood Watch) that the Monterrey Bay Aquarium puts out which has helped shape my consumption patterns. The fact that it was on a small fold-able wallet sized brochure helped too.

    I think what's important to appreciate here is that of all the chocolate grown in the world, a large majority of it goes through a select 10 companies… who capture a large majority of the market. So even if everyone followed this list, the impact would be that these small companies would be impacted more so than any of the larger companies since demand from the small companies isn't at the scale necessary to make large companies think twice.

    How can we better ensure the masses know what is conflict-free chocolate and what is not? I think the masses are more likely to consume Nestle, Mars, or Hershey products over any of those on the list provided. And any attempts at labeling seem to go by the wayside (see Cali's GMO proposals or even the chocolate industry in the run up to Harkin/Engel which basically demonstrates that the ensuing certification systems out there are as good of veils to the truth as our own USDA/FDA ones are).

  22. 菁蕪

    I am glad that there are very devoted people who took the time to compose this informative list. There should really be more awareness on the issue of child labor.

    I often buy vegan chocolates from Hotel Chocolat (independent) and also from Thornton's. I couldn't find them on the list. I would like to ask whether your team has any information on these brands?

    Thanks again, and keep up the good work!

  23. lauren

    Our most recent update has Hotel list (thanks to you!) and we are looking into Thornton's as well. Keep your eye on the updates. Thanks!

  24. Melody

    Do you have any recommendations for baking chocolates? I feel like this list gives me a pretty good idea of what chocolates to get for snacking, but I was wondering if you had any suggestions for large blocks that might be used for baking projects.

  25. Unknown

    Hey guys. I just bought a container of Divine cocoa and when I got home I realized on the back it says may contain milk. I hopped on their website to see if I could find more information on this, and on their website it says it DOES contain milk! I contacted the company asking how and why it would contain dairy, and it has been almost a week with no response. Buy with caution! Always read labels. I will update if they ever respond to me.

  26. lauren

    yes, please do let us know what you find out.

  27. lauren

    Hi, Jenny – Sunspire is on our list under their parent name – they would not disclose so we do not recommend them:

    – The Hain Celestial Group (Rice Dream, Soy Dream, Sunspire, Chocolate Dream, Tropical Source)


  28. Craig

    I've been trying to find out abut Trader Joes 72% cacao dark chocolate … It says it's imported from Belgium, and I've been scouting all over to try and find out who actually makes it. So far, best info looks like it's actually manufacturd by a Swiss company called Villar. Do you know anything about them? Apparently their choc isn't available in the USA…

  29. lauren

    Hi, Craig,

    Thank you for this question and for caring about this issue.

    Sorry for our delay, but we just heard back from them and we will not be recommending them, but will list them as working on it. Thank you!

  30. Anonymous

    No information on Godiva?

  31. Daniel Widrew

    why are 5 companies listed under "Cannot recommend" with no explanation? did they not respond? did you get the information in other ways? thanks!

  32. lauren

    Last time we checked, they did not make anything vegan. Sorry.

  33. lauren


    Thanks for your question. Hershey & subsidiaries are there because we did not need to reach out to them as they are involved in lawsuits from former slaves. But at least one of them should be under – not recommended but at least responded – thanks for that – w will update it.

  34. Katie Blommer

    Chuao also uses Blommer Chocolate as do a number of other companies on these lists and they buy Ghana beans as well as many other beans and they do not source beans from anyone that uses child labor.

  35. lauren

    There are a few exceptions but we do not recommend those that source from areas where the worst forms of child labor and slavery take place.

  36. Anika Westlund

    Thanks so much for this list. Do you have Purdy's chocolate from Canada?

  37. lauren

    According to Purdy's they do not make anything vegan.

  38. Jumpkin

    Hey, just wondering what you think of slavefreechocolate.org as they have some brands approved on there that you don't. Also is there anything you'd recommend we'd do as consumers to encourage companies to move to slave labour free chocolate? Do you think sending emails, starting petitions or anything like that is effective?

  39. lauren

    Thank you for your message. Absolutely! Letting companies know why you are or are not buying their products is critical. Our work thus far is getting companies to be transparent on where their chocolate is coming from. We were successful in pushing Clif Bar in doing this through an on-line petition.
    Given there are issues with various certifications, we do not base our chocolate list on those (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5C7jmrycf0) but instead on country of origin. Hope that helps.

  40. lauren

    Thanks for your comment, rin. Choczero is on our list as being 'Recommended'.

  41. Anonymous

    I just have a question about Justin's Nut Butter. Don't they use palm oil? And isn't palm oil directly linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced? Just wondering how they get around that and, if they don't, how they made your recommendation list.

  42. lauren

    Hi, Sallybelle, thanks for your comment. Yes, Justin's Nut Butter does use palm oil and they are also now owned by Hormel (http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/People/Justin-Gold-on-why-he-got-into-bed-with-Hormel). While F.E.P. does recommend avoiding palm oil whenever possible, our list is based on the sourcing of cocoa and if the company provides a vegan option. As much as we would like our list to show companies with palm oil, etc., we just do not have the bandwidth at this time. If you would like, feel free to check out our section (on our website) that discusses the many issues with palm oil: https://www.foodispower.org/ethical-food-choices/

  43. Teale

    Hi, I am interested in buying the Date Lady chocolate spread, but I don't see them on your list. They are vegan. If you get a chance to contact them that would be awesome. Thanks!

  44. lauren

    Thanks for reaching out and caring about the issue of child labor in the chocolate industry! We will be sure to reach out to the company and ask what country they are sourcing their cocoa from. Thanks, Teale!

  45. While I am in favor of eradicating from the planet companies that engage in child labor/slavery, what happens to the families and the children who work for such companies when the companies are put out of business. Like it or not, these companies may provide wages for families that have no other source of income. As a well-traveled American involved in many projects to make the world a better place for all, I recognize that life in many countries will NEVER be of the quality we enjoy in the USA. One small change in a country in which there is child labor/slavery can save many children's lives, but to what end? If those same children now die from starvation, have we accomplished something worthwhile or simply postponed the inevitable? I am not suggesting a hands-off approach; simply a more comprehensive plan for the resulting effects of our humanitarian ventures.

  46. lauren

    Thanks for your note. Many adults and children are not paid in this industry and are in fact, slaves or are not paid, so they can only gain by our voices demanding change. The more we let the industry know we will not support child labor and slavery the quicker they will work to create change. F.E.P. recommends those farmers/worker owned cooperatives that are in Western Africa that are striving to do the right thing.

  47. Unknown

    Thank you for this list! Wegmans makes vegan chocolate chips, I was wondering if you have looked into their sources?

  48. lauren

    Thanks for commenting and caring about this issue. We have not looked into Wegman's, but will send the info to our chocolate volunteer who will reach out to them and ask which country of origin they source their cocoa from. Thanks!

  49. Tess Anderson

    Thank you so much for drawing up this list, it is helping a lot of people organize how they choose to support the chocolate industry in a way that doesn't support unfair labor practices. I find it a really admirable thing to do.
    I am curious about the extent to which you include organic certification as criteria for companies making it onto your list. To make my concern clear, I am personally in favor of the careful use of gmos and genetic engineering, as long as they are toward more environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. In other words, I am personally interested in companies using fair trade and cruelty-free practices (certified or not) whether or not their products are organic as well. I'm just curious, do companies have to be organic to make it onto your list? Is it a matter of much weight in your eyes? Thanks again a lot for doing this!

  50. Hi, Tess,

    Thanks so much for reading our blog post and supporting our work. You can learn more about our stance on GMO's on our website at: https://www.foodispower.org/gmosnanofoods/

    As for our chocolate list, the only requirement we have to be included on our list is that the company must make at least one vegan chocolate.

    We hope that helps.

  51. AJ

    Hi there! I was just gifted some chocolate made by Thrive Market that is vegan and “ethically sourced.” I couldn’t find in on your list, though. Would be interested in finding out more info if you have looked into them. Thanks!

    1. Erika Galera

      Thank you for contacting Food Empowerment Project and caring about the issue of child labor and slavery in the chocolate industry. We are always working to expand our chocolate list and appreciate you bringing this company to our attention.

      We will pass along this information to our volunteer who works on our Chocolate List and let you know whether we can recommend Thrive Market chocolate, based on the country of origin for their cocoa. Thanks so much!

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