Slave grown Cocoa – An apology from the William A Cadbury Trustees.

Prompted by Black Lives Matter and following the lead of the Barrow Cadbury Trust the trustees of the William A Cadbury Charitable Trust have looked again at the impact on the trust’s endowment of cocoa grown by enslaved people.

Cocoa from the Portuguese colonies on the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe first became available in the 1850s and by the turn of the century accounted for a significant proportion of the cocoa used by Cadbury Brothers.

Rumours of the brutal use of slave labour on the islands first surfaced in 1901 and were confirmed beyond doubt in 1903. In response WA Cadbury, on behalf of Cadbury Brothers, led a coalition of the British chocolate manufacturers in negotiations with the plantation owners and the Portuguese government. Reforms were promised in 1903 and again in 1907 and it was the failure to put these reforms into effect which led in March 1909 to a boycott of Portuguese cocoa by the British manufacturers.

Trustees join with the team at the Barrow Cadbury Trust and endorse their apology which is quoted below: –

‘The Board and Executive Team of the Trust recognise the extreme pain and damage done to those people, who were forcibly exploited, taken from their homelands, separated from their children, and many of whom died in the appalling conditions.

We apologise unreservedly for this historic injustice and renew our commitment to deepen our engagement with modern day racial inequality across all of our work.’

3rd July, 2021.

Further information: – The Campaign against Island Slavery 1901 – 1908