Candymakers are in love with their profits and Valentine’s Day is a perfect (commercial) holiday for them to push extra chocolate and sugary sweets. But the candy corporations that make Valentine’s classics like candy hearts, boxes o’ chocolate, Butterfinger, and Ferrero Rocher are the same candymakers driving rainforest destruction and human rights abuses with the ingredients that they use in their products.
These treats may seem harmless on our store shelves, but the local and Indigenous communities living at the frontlines of deforestation see the real harm that these companies are causing. Community stories like this reveal the true impacts:
Two friends had grown up in neighboring communities — villages that had lived, worked, and farmed in the area for countless generations but, over time, had watched as their communities’ land and forest were given away to pulp and paper companies. These massive Agribusiness companies cleared native forests and put heavily guarded pulp and paper plantations in their place — destroying the communities’ farms and traditional sources of livelihood and dominating and militarizing the area in the process.
The two friends were on their way to a festival but they never made it. Tragically, one of the young men, named Indra Pelani, lost his life at the hands of militarized plantation security forces (you can read more here.) This is the real dark side of candymakers’ greed for cheap palm oil, cocoa, sugar, and paper packaging. Those sweets aren’t so sweet after all.
Here are three ways candymakers like Ferrero are breaking our hearts:
1. Human Rights Abuses: Land theft and violence against Indigenous and local communities like those highlighted in the story above have been perpetrated by huge Agribusiness conglomerates like Sinar Mas Group.
Candy companies use complicated supply chains to try to mask their culpability but RAN continues to demand these companies know and disclose where their ingredients come from and how they are produced.
Forced labor and child labor have been exposed by powerful investigative journalists, linking Girl Scout Cookie ingredients with dirty palm oil supplies. Some girl scouts are taking action, like Olivia Chaffin who created this page and petition to help other girl scouts and troop leaders get Conflict Palm Oil out of their cookies. These young people learned about the conditions of young girls in Malaysia, forced by poverty and exploitation to work on palm oil plantations and they felt called to act in solidarity. It’s a powerful example for us grown-ups.
2. Deforestation: Ferrero is deeply invested in several ‘forest-risk’ commodities — palm oil, cocoa, sugar, and paper, which are all made at the expense of rainforests.
Ferrero has a high percentage of these commodities in its products and it’s driving land theft from local and Indigenous communities, the bulldozing and burning of rainforests, and the draining and development of peatlands, all while human and labor rights abuses abound.
From tropical rainforests in Indonesia, the Congo, and the Amazon to the Boreal Forests across Canada, companies are trying to steal the last intact forests on this planet for the sake of profits. We say no amount of cheap snacks is worth another acre of deforestation. We must keep forests standing.
3. Climate Change: Forests produce much of our world’s oxygen and rainfall, regulate global temperatures, and absorb massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere — fighting one of the key drivers of climate change — and store it safely underground.
Yet forests and peatlands continue to be destroyed and developed for the sake of producing cheap ingredients. This short-sighted greed is trading quick profit for the long-term health and stability of our planet and our climate.
There is no more time to delay if we are to intervene on the worst impacts of the climate crises that have already begun to harm and displace vulnerable communities. We know that local and Indigenous communities are the best defense against deforestation, protecting land and water vital to us all. When we respect land rights and human rights we can stop the destruction and stabilize the climate.
Whether you love Valentine’s Day or love to hate it, hopefully you love our planet and care for future generations enough to tell candymakers, like Ferrero, that their cheap sweets aren’t worth the hefty price. Take action, tell Ferrero’s CEO that love shouldn’t hurt and sweet treets shouldn’t cause rights abuses, deforestation, and climate change.