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The great KitKat debate: is it fair?

KitKat, the chocolate candy bar manufactured by Nestlé, is the subject of a battle over what is fair: fair trade. Should a brand be discriminated against because of its association with poor business practices even when it is trying to be fair?

Consumers can now make their own decision. The first KitKat bars with fair trade labeling just arrived on market shelves in the UK and Ireland.

The battle is divided between those that do not agree with the way Nestlé conducts business, namely for their labor practices some have referred to as "child slavery," and KitKat’s positive change in production practices with cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire.

The Fairtrade Foundation certified KitKat last month and Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, supports the decision saying KitKat "will open whole new possibilities for these farmers in Côte d’Ivoire, giving them a more sustainable livelihood..."

Whereas Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, contends Nestlé fairtrade Kit Kats will be added to the list of boycott products. Brady "…recommend[s] that anyone who is concerned about promoting real change for people in developing countries support the boycott."

The bottom line is consumers have the choice, it is important to understand what is behind packaging labels and determine what defines your ethical consumption.

Next time you take a break with a KitKat fairtrade bar it is good to know that a portion of your money is helping farmers but what about all those other bars and farmers?

Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate bar is also fair trade and retails for £0.53 or €0.61.

Here is a list of chocolate companies that are 100% fair trade or are transitioning to 100%: http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fairtrade/cocoa/retailers.html

Sources:

http://www.talkingretail.com/products/product-news/13860-have-a-break-have-a-fairtrade-kit-kat.html (article)

http://www.newint.org/columns/currents/2010/01/01/fair-trade/ (article)

http://www.babymilkaction.org/pages/boycott.html (boycott site)

http://boycottnestle.blogspot.com/2009/12/nestle-fairtrade-two-fingers.html (boycott blog

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