Chocolate companies score poorly on animal welfare, new research shows

Chocolate companies score poorly on animal welfare, new research shows
Dairy cows, photo: Canva

Animal welfare organization Four Paws researched some of the world’s largest chocolate producers on their efforts to implement dairy reduction strategies for better animal welfare practices and climate action.

Only two companies, Migros and Coop, were in the “Average” category, four in “Poor” -including industry giants Mars and Nestlé- and twelve participants, such as Ferrero, Tony’s Chocolonely and The Hershey Company, in the “Very Poor” category.

The Four Paws Chocolate Challenge examined the efforts of leading chocolate companies in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, and South Africa in dairy reduction strategies and plant-based alternatives.

Although many of the companies offer vegan chocolate in their product ranges, none of them have a concrete dairy reduction strategy in place, despite the known negative impacts of dairy on animals and the environment, Four Paws said.

Eleven of the eighteen companies in the ranking offer at least one dairy-free chocolate alternative, but none have the intention to increase these alternatives. 

“Cows only give milk when they have a calf. This means that the cow is inseminated again soon after she has given birth. On most dairy farms, the calf is routinely separated from the mother shortly after birth. The vast majority of the female calves await the same cruel fate as dairy cows until they are eventually slaughtered,”Sonja Svensek, head of nutrition at Four Paws, said.

“All male calves are first fattened and then sent to slaughter, which sometimes means they are shipped throughout Europe and overseas for days or even weeks,” Svensek added.

As chocolate is often associated with pleasure, celebration, and comfort, consumers looking to purchase milk chocolate for Mother’s Day may want to consider plant-based alternatives due to the numerous negative effects of dairy on mother cows, Four Paws said.

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