Barrow Cadbury Trust has apologised “unreservedly” for its part in profiting from labour exploitation.
During the pandemic year, and in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, the Trust started to look into and reflect on the origins of its endowment.
In July 2020 the chair, Erica Cadbury, posted a blog about the involvement of the Cadbury company with plantations in São Tomé and Príncipe which deployed, as it then thought, indentured labour, a system of bonded labour introduced after the abolition of slavery.
This week Cadbury published a further blog after the Trust found other material and “discovered a more complex and troubling story”.
It found its endowment “was not free from labour exploitation”.
Cadbury said: “Our research has found that Angolan people were enslaved on cocoa plantations in São Tomé and Príncipe at the end of the 19th century. The company was alerted to this at the latest in 1901.”
She adds: “What is clear to us is that this response was well-intentioned but slow and that the company continued to profit from this extreme form of exploitation for around a further eight years until they organised a boycott by British and some European cocoa manufacturers.”
The board and executive team of the Trust have apologised for this, and “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 from their 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,” Cadbury said.