by Sangeeta Waldron
Chocolate is one of the most popular and widely consumed products in the world, with North America devouring the lion's share, followed by Europe. There is a huge variety of chocolate products available, but there is one unusual chocolate brand gaining ground, making a big difference, and that’s Tony’s Chocolonely. A Fairtrade chocolate, Tony’s Chocolonely grew to be the largest Dutch chocolate company in less than 10 years, and has now entered the American market with its launch in Portland, Ore. last autumn; it can be bought online from the company's website. In addition to the Netherlands, Tony's is sold in Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and will launching in Germany later this year. It’s on a mission to be sold across the entire US this year.
Tony’s Chocolonely has a wonderful backstory. It was started by Dutch journalist Teun van de Keuken (‘Tony’) when he discovered that cocoa was being bought from plantations that used child slavery. After learning these facts, van de Keuken ate 12 chocolate bars and turned himself in to the police as a ‘chocolate criminal,’ saying he had purchased an illegally manufactured product. When the trial didn’t result in his conviction, he decided to start a chocolate company dedicated to creating a 100 percent slave-free chocolate industry.
When you unwrap Tony’s Chocolonely brightly coloured wrapper - it evokes a sense of perhaps this is what a Willy Wonka chocolate bar would be like - you discover a six-ounce chunky bar that’s unequally divided to illustrate the inequality in the chocolate industry. In today’s free trade world, slaves are still at work on cocoa farms in West Africa, many of them children. Tony’s Chocolonely exists to change this situation by making 100 percent slave-free the norm in the chocolate industry and to show that chocolate can be made differently, through direct, long-term relationships with cocoa farmers and other supply chain partners.
A recent study by Tulane University revealed that more than two million children were working in hazardous conditions in the cocoa production industry in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Tony’s Chocolonely has created a completely transparent and traceable bean-to-bar process, where they agree on better prices for the farmers. The brand also provides business and agricultural training to increase productivity on their farms. Plus, 1% of its net revenue is donated to its Chocolonely Foundation, supporting projects to eradicate slavery in the cocoa supply chain.
Tony’s wants to inspire both consumers and other chocolate companies to take responsibility by asking American consumers to buy Tony Chocolonely’s this Mother’s Day. If it can inspire others to take ownership in the supply chain, it believes it can make a significant difference in making all chocolate 100% slave free.
Photo Credit: Tony Chocolonely