blog #1: tien jaar Tony’s

Ten Years Tony’s. Reason for a celebration?

It’s almost our tenth anniFAIRsary. The first Tony’s Chocolonely bar came onto the market in November 2005: milk chocolate in an alarming red wrapper, as things were seriously awry in the chocolate industry.

Remember how it all started? Dutch TV journalist Teun van de Keuken raised the alarm about conditions on West African cocoa plantations after discovering child slaves working there. He tried to contact all major chocolate companies, but no one would talk to him. Teun van de Keuken decided to take responsibility on his own. He ate 12 chocolate bars and turned himself in to the police for fencing. As ‘chocolate criminal’ he purchased an illegally manufactured product. When the trial didn’t result in his conviction, he decided to start a chocolate company, Tony’s Chocolonely. A company dedicated to realise a 100% slave free chocolate industry.

We’ve been on our way to 100% slavefree chocolate for ten years now. With incredibly tasty chocolate we lead by example and show the world chocolate can be made differently. We have been supported, encouraged, challenged and eaten up. But we’ve also learned how difficult it is to change an entire industry. In ten years, we’ve grown tremendously and we are increasing our impact every day. Through direct, long-term relationships with cocoa farmers and other supply chain partners, we’ve created a completely transparent and traceable bean-to-bar process. We agree on better prices for the farmers and train them to increase productivity on their farms. Furthermore, one percent of our net revenue is donated to the Chocolonely Foundation, supporting projects to eradicate slavery in the cocoa chain. That is something to celebrate. Yet, we remain critical of the industry and ourselves by raising the bar. Because after ten years, we’re still not there.

Right now, slaves are working on cocoa plantations of West Africa. Many of them are children. That’s unacceptable. The Cocoa Barometer for 2015 and a new study by Tulane University point to the extent of the problem by documenting the worst forms of child labor in the chocolate industry and critically monitoring what big chocolate companies are doing about it. The chocolate companies promised way back in 2001 in the the Harkin – Engel protocol to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. And the upshot? As of 2015, more children than ever are working under illegal and hazardous conditions on the cocoa plantations — over 2 million! How can this be? Basically, because the root causes have not been resolved: low prices for cocoa farmers, a lack of knowledge and awareness, poor organization among farmers and poor infrastructure. All the separate initiatives to tackle these problems don’t add up.

Although the context is challenging we believe strongly in our vision and are fully committed to succeed. We will not rest until 100% slavefree is the norm in chocolate. But we can’t do it alone. Alone we make slave free chocolate, together we make all chocolate 100% slave free. So let’s raise the bar and leave behind us an era of chocolate with the bitter aftertaste of exploitation and slavery.

On 19 November 2015 we will be celebrating our tenth anniFAIRsary with serious debates and.. a big party. Because having a little fun along the way keeps us energized to move mountains of chocolate.

Tony’s Chocolonely. crazy about chocolate, serious about people.

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