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Tony's Chocolonely: Sustainable Chocolate

11 Feb 2020

Bright packing with information content on the reverse side, an unusual division of the bar and special recipes like white chocolate with raspberry and popping sugar or dark chocolate with pretzel and toffee - the bars of chocolate of Tony’s Chocolonely stand out! And this is due to much more than simply successful marketing. The visitors of the sweets trade fair, ISM Cologne, will have the opportunity to find this out on-site, because for the first time the Dutch company is participating as an exhibitor.

The reason for the participation is among others the mission of Tony's Chocolonely: "Our aim is to make the chocolate industry 100% slave-free worldwide. Correspondingly, the company is expanding more and more in order to raise awareness, convey the mission and thus also reach every individual person and in turn revolutionise the industry. ISM is the world's largest trade fair. There is no other better place to reach a worldwide (trade) audience," Frits Snel, Head of Sales International, is convinced.

It all started with research for a TV report about slavery in the chocolate industry. The journalist, Teun van de Keunen, found out in this connection that cocoa farmers in West Africa and their children work as slaves. He quickly decided to manufacture his own Fairtrade chocolate. And that was what triggered off the foundation of Tony's Chocolonely in November 2005. Today, the chocolate start-up that is based in Amsterdam is the market leader in the Netherlands. We wanted to learn more, so we spoke with Frits Snel.

Cocoa drying ©tonyschocolonely

Cocoa drying ©tonyschocolonely

Slave-free cocoa farming: What is the motivation behind the idea?

Frits Snel: We all know that chocolate makes people happy. Really happy? Unfortunately, not all people in the world. Because at the other end of the value chain there are many millions of cocoa farmers, who often work under inhumane conditions to produce our bars of chocolate. 2.3 million children are forced to carry out child labour in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. 90,000 children and adults fall victim to human trafficking or forced labour - a form of modern slavery. With the goal of improving the situation and making chocolate 100% slave-free, ever since its foundation Tony's has been making a statement against exploitation and has been promoting fair trade.

What does Tony's Chocolonely actually do in its fight for a world in which the cocoa production is totally slave-free?

Frits Snel: On the one hand, the entire production route of the cocoa beans is traceable and fair prices ensure improved conditions locally and a higher quality of the cocoa beans. Tony's also pays the cocoa farmers a so-called "reference price for living wages" and calls upon other chocolate companies to also pay the cocoa farmers this reference price. The reference price for living wages is the price that the farmers should receive per kilo of cocoa beans to enable them to earn a decent living.

What is behind your credo "Together we'll make chocolate 100 percent slave-free"?

Frits Snel: The more people opt for chocolate that is produced without the use of slaves and the more the mission and story behind Tony's Chocolonely is shared, the quicker it will become the norm. We don't merely want to influence the production of our own chocolate, but that of all brands worldwide. Our daily actions are based on three guiding principles: "Tony's raises awareness", "Tony's shows a good example" and "Tony's inspires people to act". We tell people about the child labour about modern slavery, place our bets on a transparent production chain and inspire other main players of the industry to follow our lead.

cacao beans ©tonyschocolonely

cacao beans ©tonyschocolonely

What has Tony's Chocolonely already achieved in this connection?

Frits Snel: We can report the following achievements for the years 2018/2019.

  • 71% of the chocolate fans in the Netherlands are aware of the existence of the modern slavery in the cocoa plantations
  • 25,846 people have taken part in awareness-raising activities within the scope of the CLMRS (Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System)
  • 100% of the cocoa beans of our chocolate originates from Tony's partner cooperatives
  • 6,624 farmers benefit from Tony's premium
  • Tony's identified "only" 259 cases of illegal child labour (at the start of the monitoring in 2017, it was still 527 cases) in cocoa plantations, where the 1,500 tonnes of cocoa is harvested for our company.

Petition for Fairtrade cocoa that is applicable worldwide Frits Snel: From a political angle, we are asserting ourselves for a petition for a worldwide applicable supply chain that forbids slavery. For this purpose, Tony's needs one million signatures by autumn 2020 in order to be able to present a corresponding petition. So, we need LOTS of fans, who share the mission and sign the petition (