Press Release

The Hague, 1 April 2011

Child labour in harvesting Turkish hazelnuts Multinationals acknowledge problem but remain vague about solutions Multinational companies like Unilever, Mars and Ferrero acknowledge that there is child labour in harvesting hazelnuts in Turkey. They claim they want to take action against this practice but are vague about how they are going to do this. This appears from answers to questions that the campaign ‘Stop Child Labour – School, the best workplace’ and FNV Bondgenoten asked at the end of 2010 to seven companies and two sector organizations. In its broadcast on 19 October 2010, the Dutch television programme ÉenVandaag revealed that children are being used to pick hazelnuts in Turkey, which supplies 75 per cent of all hazelnuts worldwide. In an open letter to companies, Stop Child Labour and FNV Bondgenoten asked a number of involved companies and sector organisations to ban child labour and underpaid labour in this sector. Ferrero, one of the major users of hazelnuts in its hazelnut paste Nutella, is keeping its reaction extremely vague. In its own statement, Ferraro claims that it acts for the abolishment of child labour in the countries where it is active, through a clause in its contracts. It does not mention monitoring. Ferrero states that it cannot solve the problem of child labour on its own without help from non-governmental organisations and local governments. However, about whether it is actually seeking help to this end, Ferraro remains silent. It has not reacted at all to the specific situation in Turkey. Mars Netherlands, Unilever and Koninklijke Wessanen keep their answers very general by stating that they do have policies against child labour and that they do monitor, also in the chain. However, they do not make it clear if this is true as well for picking hazelnuts. Verkade and Nestlé Netherlands are, relatively speaking, the most concrete because they explicitly indicate that they are taking action or want to take action against child labour in the area of picking hazelnuts. In order to do this, it is necessary to map what happens on the plantations. Tony Chocolonely has decided, for the time being, not to use any more Turkish hazelnuts. It wants to investigate the situation in Turkey first and then take action together with other companies. Stop Child Labour advises companies to continue to use Turkish hazelnuts for the time being and, concurrently, make their influence felt for improvements. Of the eight companies Stop Child Labour approached, Ahold was the only one that did not react. Stop Child Labour and FNV Bondgenoten, by means of a letter to involved companies, requested further discussions about the approach to child labour in picking hazelnuts. They also sent the companies reactions to their letters. Additionally, Stop Child Labour and FNV Bondgenoten are involved in discussions on this topic with the Federation of Dutch Food and Grocery Industry (FNLI). Log on to: www.stopkinderarbeid.nl to find the reaction of Stop Child Labour and FNV Bondgenoten to the letters in which the companies respond to questions about their involvement in child labour in harvesting Turkish hazelnuts. Please contact Sofie Ovaa, coordinator of the campaign Stop Child Labour, telephone +31 (0)70-3765571 or Gerard Oonk, policy adviser for the campaign, telephone +31 (0)30-2321340 for more information.