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Article

Brazil: Under accusations of slavery and child labour, Olam claims to court that it cannot fully trace its supply chain

Agência Brasil - EBC

“Exclusive-Cocoa giant in Brazil slave labour probe says it can't trace supplies”, 12 August 2021

...One of the world’s top cocoa processors has told a Brazilian court investigating child and slave labor it cannot trace its supplies...Olam International is one of three food companies being sued by Brazilian state prosecutors for allegedly failing to address labor abuses in their supply chains. The company denies the charges, which stem from a 2018 report by Brazil’s Federal Labor Prosecution Office and the International Labor Organization that showed widespread use of child and slave labor in Brazil’s cocoa industry. But in its statement to the court in April, Olam’s lawyers said cocoa beans that were passed from farmer to middle man before being bought by the company were “not liable to tracking”...In contrast, Singapore-based Olam’s website offers its customers a guarantee that they can buy its chocolate knowing that “it has been produced in a way that supports the most vulnerable people and environments in the supply chain”...Brazilian prosecutors...say they have proof of child and slave labor in Olam’s supply chain...Invoices attached to the lawsuit show the company bought cocoa from a farm in Brazil where nine workers were found in slavery-like conditions in 2017...Olam said it could not comment on the ongoing litigation, but added, “we vehemently deny the allegations made in this action and maintain that they have no merit in fact or law”. The company has previously said it has “zero tolerance for forced labour” and would “immediately act, including notifying the appropriate authorities”, if any cases were identified in its supply chain...Margarete Matos de Carvalho, who is prosecuting the case…[:]...“We have abundantly proved the presence of child labor and slave labor (in Olam’s supply chain), but they close their eyes to this reality”...