Addressing Child Labor and Forced Labor in the Coffee Supply Chain in Honduras

Project Duration
December 2017
December 2023
Funding and Year

This project helps businesses establish systems to prevent, detect and eliminate child labor and other forms of labor exploitation from their supply chains. It is assembling a powerful coalition of coffee buyers to collectively incentivize compliance among suppliers. In doing so, the project promotes supply chains that are free of exploitative labor and helps to create a fair playing field for workers in the U.S. and around the world.

The Problem

The United States is the second largest market in the world for Honduran coffee. But before that coffee reaches our cups, over one million Hondurans select, pick, and process the beans. Many of these coffee workers are children – toiling in the fields instead of learning in school.

There are nearly 158,000 children engaged in child labor in Honduras, and more work in agriculture than in any other sector. Honduran coffee production relies largely on family–based labor. In many communities, very little is known about the negative consequences of child labor, exploitative labor, and unsafe working conditions. Efforts to reduce child labor in the Honduran coffee sector must address several factors, such as the limited enforcement of labor laws and limited access to educational opportunities.

Our Strategy

The project is facilitating sustained, sector-wide change in labor practices through an integrated strategy. It is developing and piloting innovative social compliance tools that help businesses reduce child labor, forced labor, and unacceptable working conditions in business operations and supply chains.  By adopting these tools, businesses will be better able to implement social compliance systems that can prevent, detect, and eliminate egregious labor abuses.

A key aspect of the proposed strategy is assembling a powerful coalition of coffee buyers that can collectively exert leverage over suppliers, communicate common expectations, and provide suppliers with the resources, frameworks, guidance, tools, and trainings needed to eradicate forced labor, child labor, and wage, hour, and health and safety violations from their supply chains.


  • To support coffee suppliers in keeping their supply chains free of child labor and labor exploitation, the project developed a robust social compliance toolkit and case management system. These new tools were based on ILAB's Comply Chain methodology, a tool for companies looking to clean up their supply chains.
  • The project’s social compliance tools have been adopted and implemented in six coffee cooperatives that export to the United States. Each cooperative adopted the code of conduct, completed the Self-Assessment Guide, and is working on an Action Plan to remedy the non-compliance found in the self-assessment. 
  • Some 150 coffee producers, cooperatives, exporters and roasters have completed the project’s Self-Assessment Guide.