Teun prosecutes himself as a “cocoa criminal”
In 2003 Dutch investigative reporter Teun van de Keuken—or Tony, in English (aha…now you know why we’re called Tony’s!)—makes headlines by taking himself to court. Huh? A year earlier Teun discovered that the world’s largest chocolate companies were buying chocolate from cocoa plantations that used child slavery, despite the fact that they signed an international treaty against child slavery. To make this point, Teun eats 17 bars of chocolate on the Dutch TV show Keuringsdienst van Waarde and turns himself in as a “chocolate criminal”. By knowingly purchasing an illegally manufactured product, Teun reasons, he is committing a crime.
Keuringsdienst van Waarde TV Show
Tony’s Chocolonely was born on a Dutch consumer report show Keuringsdienst van Waarde, which exposes abuses in the food and other industries. Tony’s Chocolonely founder Teun van de Keuken was one of the show’s lead reporters.
Teun Asks Former Child Slaves to Testify Against Him
To make a case against himself, Teun needs to find witnesses to testify against him. He heads to Ivory Coast and tracks down 4 former cocoa plantation child slaves. They agree to testify against him on the record.
The First Tony’s Chocolonely bar is born
Court cases, even those against one’s self, do not happen overnight. Impatient, Teun wants to do something right now. He contacts various chocolate multinationals and asks them to create a slave-free chocolate bar for him. They all ignore him, including Nestlé, sponsor of the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie. So on November 29th 2005 Teun introduces the world’s only (making it a very ‘lonely’…aha!..) slave-free chocolate bar. The first batch includes 5,000 Fair Trade milk chocolate bars. It isn’t enough. He quickly orders a second batch of 13,000 bars! A 100% slave-free chocolate star is born.
Tony’s becomes legit
Thousands of Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bars are flying off of supermarket shelves. The brand becomes legit by registering at the Chamber of Commerce.
The road to 100% slave-free
Yeehaw—our first lawsuit! Bellissimo, a Swiss chocolate producer, sues Tony’s Chocolonely, claiming that “slave-free chocolate is impossible to produce”. They also claim that Tony’s is damaging the reputation of other chocolate producers. Fear not, justice is served. The court rules in our favour. However, we do adjust the “slave-free” logo for all our chocolate bars. From now on we’re on “the road to 100% slave-free chocolate” to underscore our ambition to make not just our own, but all the world’s chocolate slave-free. If we ever achieve this goal, we’ll change the logo back, we promise.
In the same year the Dutch courts decline to prosecute Teun as a “cocoa criminal”, they do recognise the “serious abuses that victimise young people” in the cocoa industry. The court also states that it is the responsibility of both chocolate producers and consumers to rid the world of this hideous problem.
Fair Trade gets a mainstream boost
At an auction Teun buys the very first Fair Trade certified chocolate bar produced by a large Dutch multinational, Verkade. Tony’s Chocolonely celebrates the moment. It is the first time a large manufacturer has taken baby steps towards fair and honest chocolate.
We establish the Chocolonely Foundation, created to support cocoa farming communities. The Foundation is financed in part by Tony’s Chocolonely profits.
Introducing “Tony’s in Africa” research project
With financial backing from Oxfam Novib, Tony’s Chocolonely launches a very ambitious research project called “Tony’s in Africa”. The project’s aim is to improve the Fair Trade chain so that farmers profit more greatly from it. We visit cocoa plantations in Ghana and Ivory Coast and meet with the farmers and farming co-ops. We agree to buy all our Fair Trade cocoa from these farmers in line with the Mass Balance principle, the best possible option at the time.
The Tony’s family expands into milk chocolate with hazelnuts sourced from Turkey. No sooner are we on the supermarket shelves than we get a slap on the wrist by the Dutch TV show Een Vandaag, which reveals that 9-year-old children participated in the Turkish hazelnut harvest. We immediately switch to a more transparent hazelnut supplier closer to home in the Netherlands. You can watch the Een Vandaag interview here.
Harkin Engel fails to meet its objectives
Ten years after its signing the Harkin Engel protocol has born some fruit but does not meet any one of its objectives. This failure confirms there is still much work to be done by all sides to ensure fair conditions in the cocoa trade. Click here to see the protocol’s objectives.
Henk Jan Beltman takes over the reigns as director from Eveline Raymans. His goal is to further increase Tony’s influence on international chocolate. The Tony’s family moves to a renovated factory (Westergasfabriek) on Amsterdam’s Westside.
Unequally we are unite
One day it strikes us—why should our chocolate bars be divided into equal parts when the chocolate industry isn’t? We decide to make a statement about the inequality in the cocoa trade by dividing our chocolate bars into unequal pieces. So all our chocolate bars get a serious inequality makeover.
The Tony’s family expands with the introduction of our organic and Fair Trade chocolate milk sourced directly from the Ghanese farming co-op and long-time Tony’s partner ABOCFA. This partnership is a particular source of pride as it allows ABOCFA to sell its cocoa at a fair price and sustain the co-op for another few years.
Bean to Bar becomes a reality
We take a critical step towards 100% slave-free with our very first Bean to Bar chocolate bar. The bar is made from cocoa beans fully traceable back to the farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast—farmers we know personally. Bean to Bar gives farmers fair prices and financial stability so they can invest in their own futures. It allows us to tell you precisely where the cocoa in our chocolate comes from.
We celebrate our successful year at our very first “Tony’s Fair” (hence the name of the annual report – “jaarFAIRslag”). A big fabulous information-sharing event featuring inspiring speakers like Miki Mistrati and Teun van de Keuken himself, with catering by the great ChefSpecial. We share our progress towards a 100% slave-free chocolate industry in front of a live audience.
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