Global confectionery giants Haribo have taken action and launched an independent investigation after allegations of slave labour in their carnauba wax supply chain emerged.
Haribo use carnauba wax as a coating agent to prevent some of their products from sticking together, and the company sources wax that is primarily produced and harvested on Brazilian farms.
A German public broadcasting station named Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) extensively looked at conditions at carnauba-producing farms for a documentary programme, ARD-Markencheck. The report claimed that the workers on farms that supply Haribo are forced to work in conditions which resemble modern-day slavery.
According to Markencheck, the workers are forced to sleep outside, are denied access to clean drinking water, and harvest palm leaves used for the carnauba wax for just $12 a day.
A spokesperson for Haribo claimed that the company was horrified by the claims, and have acted accordingly to launch an independent investigation while starting conversations with the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“We are shocked and appalled by recent reports concerning the treatment of workers at carnauba wax suppliers in Brazil,” the spokesperson said. “Such behavior is unacceptable and goes against everything Haribo stands for as a company.
“We have tasked a group of independent, accredited and certified auditors with conducting a full investigation of our carnauba wax supply chain and are currently awaiting the findings of the investigation.”
Haribo have also come out and stated that if human rights abuse is identified, they will be reviewing their existing supplier relationships for carnauba wax.
“For Haribo, social and ethical labor standards are non-negotiable as far as our suppliers, preliminary suppliers and their farms are concerned,” they stated.
“That has always been our position. We will be engaging in deeper conversations with our suppliers and their preliminary suppliers to ensure all of our partners consistently meet the highest standards and that process is well underway.”Haribo opens investigation into damaging slavery claims in supply chain