Lesson Three: Chocolate Profits and Commercial Implications

28 Mar

Subject: Math
Cross Curricular Competencies: To use information. To exercise critical judgment.
Broad Areas of Learning: Consumer rights and responsibilities. Media literacy.
Paper and pencil per student
Calculator per student
A computer lab

Time: 1 1/2 hours

To gain an understanding of the discrepancy between the profits of chocolate sales around the world, the profits of a cocoa plantation farmer and the wages of laborers on cocoa plantations.
To gain an understanding of the commercial implications of forced labour in the Ivory Coast.
To demonstrate the ability to represent and manipulate profits and expenses in an excel spreadsheet.

The lesson begins by reminding children of the harsh working conditions in the Ivory Coast that were identified in the previous lesson. A reflection question is posed to the class as a whole: Who do you think gets the money when you buy a chocolate bar at the supermarket?


  • The teacher ntroduces the idea that despite the intense work involved in harvesting and preparing cocoa beans for importation, plantations in Third World countries make very little profits.
  • Each student is given a worksheet with various problems on it regarding the expenses and profits involved in chocolate production and culminating in a figure for the profits of an Ivory Coast farmer and for a big chocolate company in Canada.
  • The profits of the chocolate company are computed together as a class under the guidance of the teacher, and the profits of the Ivory Coast farmer are then be computed individually by each student.
  • The teacher then invites students to share their answers and reveals the correct figure for the profits of the cocoa plantation farmer.
  • The class moves to the computer lab where they practice entering these figures into an excel spreadsheet.
  • Students are then asked to guess how much money is earned by the plantation workers supplying the long hours and heavy labour. After some discussion, the teacher explains that these workers make little to no pay at all.
  • A class discussion takes place where students are invited to share their feelings on this discrepancy between chocolate sales in Canada and worker profits in the Ivory Coast. Reflection questions may include: If chocolate companies are making so much money, why are cocoa farmers making very little? Is it fair for plantation workers to receive no money from the sale of chocolate in Canada?
  • Students are then asked to reflect on whether they think many Canadians know about the slavery in the Ivory Coast and the gigantic profits being made by chocolate companies in North America.
  • Students are reminded of the previous two lessons examining biases in the media and are asked whether there might be biases in the way information about chocolate profits are publicized. Discussion questions may include: Did the Hershey’s videos have any information about chocolate profits in them? Why do you think they did not? Do you think information about chocolate profits is available to Canadians at all?

To close the lesson students will be prompted with a reflection question that will prepare them for the next lesson: What do you think we can do to fix the issues surrounding unfair labour practices in the Ivory Coast? Who do you think should get the money you spend when you buy a chocolate bar? Students’ grasp of the material is assessed by looking at each student’s final excel spreadsheet.

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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


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