Tony’s Chocolonely

On the way to 100% slavefree chocolate

Thursday 2 July 2009, by Markus Luehmann, Richard Murrugarra, Valerie Doffegnies

144 inspired

A) Main facts about activities:

The Chocolonely Foundation’s mission is to offer financial resources and knowledge to ’native journalists’ in developing countries so that they can contribute to the formation of perspectives on the issue of wealth and poverty, thus creating a better picture of reality.
The Chocolonely Foundation was also established to offer a platform for the worldwide distribution of the work of these journalists and to promote the slave-free products produced by Tony’s Factory. The Chocolonely Foundation is financed by gifts and a percentage of sales of Tony’s Chocolonely products.

Tony’s Factory wants to make the tastiest chocolate in the world, chocolate that the whole world can enjoy.
Most of the people involved in cocoa production do not get much enjoyment out of their work. Their working conditions are terrible and they are not paid an honest wage for a good day’s work.

In some cases, their working conditions are so bad that the cocoa workers can be considered slaves according to the definition of slavery issued by the UN. Many of these cocoa workers are children.

Tony’s Factory wants to change this situation. We feel that the people in the cocoa fields deserve honest wages for their work and our delicious Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate is made from cocoa harvested by people who receive just that, so that they can also enjoy chocolate.

In the TV show ?€˜Keuringsdienst van Waarde?€™ it was shown that no single chocolateproducer that signed the treaty to abolish the slave trade followed the rules of the treaty, the makers of the slogan ?€˜If you can?€™t beat them, join them?€™ decided to produce their own ?€˜slavefree?€™ chocolate and bring it to the market. The name Tony?€™s Chocolonely refers to Teun van de Keuken, who on March 22th 2004 gave himself in at the police. He said to be guilty of slavery, since he had been eating chocolatebars of which it was known that part of it was produced by childslaves. Eventually his declaration was not valid, which Van de Keuken did not agree upon. After trying several times in different ways to make things better, Van de Keuken decided to start his own chocolate brand.
On Februari 6th 2007 de judge in Amsterdam decided that there was enough proof that Tony?€™s Chocolonely bars were slavefree.

B) The ethical problems this company is facing:

This company is focusing on the problems concerning use of slavery at cocoa plantations in west africa, especially Ivory Coast. Big producers of chocolate like Nestle, Godiva and others claim it is not their responsibility what happens at the plantations; They just buy their cocoa beans. Tony thinks that this is indirectely supporting slavery, and is (apparently) taking great measures to ensure that his cocoa is made from slave-free plantations.

C) What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it.

Their goal is to raise questions, and try to find answers and in the same time put pressure on the industry to make changes. They try also to set an example in the way we work. Everytime They make an extra step. This year They will try and see if it is possible to start their own supply chain starting on the farms in West-Africa.
They make sure the farmers who are a member of the cooperation are not allowed to use childlabour. They are expected to send their children to school.
They only use chocolate that is made of beans coming from cooperations that are a member of Flo Cert. Flo Cert is the international organisation that controls the fairtrade chain. Starting with the farmers, industry and also companies like theirs. They call our chocolate ’on the way to slavefree’. They pay a fee to Max Havelaar, that is the Dutch fairtrade organisation and they pay Flo-Cert for the international control of the chain.

They are not able ourselves to check the whole chain. Ther next step is to try to buy directly from farmers. This will take time because you also need the cooperation of local governments. It is a complicated matter but in the end what we want is simple, a better payment for cocoafarmers. And using fairtrade chocolate (with fairtrade sugar afcourse) is one of the first steps.

D) The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

The greatest challenges facing Tony Chocolonely will be that they cannot be competitive with the big chocolate companies like Nestle in the long run by guaranteeing a better salary for their workers and the customer will not honor the difference between the chocolate. As well Tony Chocolonely has to do more advertisement to be more famous. It will not be easy to criticize big chocolate companies like Nestle as a unknown company. That will create one other challenge for Tony Chocolonely. They will not have the money to be competitive in case of advertisement campaigns with the comperable budget of a big chocolate company. The third challenge we want to mention is that you cannot find Tony Chocolonely in a nomal Supermarked in Spain, Germany or Norway.
But how should Tony Chocolonely handle these challenges? The Company at this time will not have the chance to act like a real competitor with the big chocolate companies. But this can change if they will do more advertisement to show that there are differences in the way of producing chocolate. We think that there are a lot of people, whose don?€™t know that even today children labour and ?€œslavery?€� is a problem at the cacao plantations. Tony Chocolonely can e.g. publish more on the internet and use internet platforms like youtube to show more of their documentations. Other possibilities to attract attention in a positive way are special events like the chocolate fashion they have designed in 2008. But they should think as a company if this really supports their aims to fight against ?€œslavery?€� on the one hand and wasting its recourses on the other. To be well known and to make Tony Chocolonely as ?€œslave free chocolate?€� to one real alternative it is evident to distribute it more in the local supermarkets.
At the end the customer will decide if he will think in favor of big chocolate companies like Nestle are not involved in slavery and child labour because "Nestlé is not the owner of any plantation" (Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chief executive, exasperated after seven years of protests connecting the Swiss multinational with forced child labor in Ivory Coast) or if they honor the difference between the chocolate brands. Tony Chocolonely will have no easy job to prove and communicate it to the consumer that there is a big difference between their ?€œslave free chocolate?€� and it?€™s from the big companies.


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1 Discussion / 1 Message

  • Tony’s Chocolonely 3 June 2012 at 17:22 , by J.R.

    First I have to congratulate the authors of the project since they were able to pick up a company out of the box that highlights perfectly the ethical issues faced every day in the business world.

    In the chocolate industry, as in many other industries, the presented dilemma is always more or less the same. Either achieve maximum profitability with our eyes closed to any problem attached. Or stand up against vicious cycles of rights degradation while in the same market of self-made blind competitors.
    The Tony’s Chocolonely case goes straight to the core of this natural issue. The Dutch journalist, Van de Keuken, with his unusual actions shed the light to these concerns. While trying to be convicted because of its “chocolate crimes” he raised public awareness around the slavery policies in the chocolate industry.
    Tony’s approach to the market aims to break with a past of governmental corruption, child labor and indifference developed by the old major players in the industry.

    From my point of view, a clean way will always be undermined by the law non-compliant ones.
    When a company that tries to set an ethical standard to the industry is sued because of technical issues, as it happened to Tony’s, the malice of the industry is evident.
    And here I must distance myself from the article. I believe the company is ethical and I trust it because of their mission and the role it tries to represent. The main challenge in the near future is be able to reach the goal of the updated slogan, “on the way to 100% slavery-free chocolate”. Develop efforts in order to have a complete slavery free supply chain with organizations such Fair Trade cocoa is the way to go.

    Tony’s does not need to improve expenditures in advertisement if the company really wants to make a difference. The precedent is established and they already proved that is possible to offer good quality products while having dignifying wages to their workers. They have an intrinsic competitive advantage that ensures their place into the market.
    Today we still face declarations that deny responsibilities in the troubles created by the operating system of the industry. The big players as Nestle or Godiva know better than anyone the existing problems and that the public opinion acknowledge faster than ever who are the good and the bad players. Now they say, “it is not our problem”. Let’s hope they will not realize too late they were the key and now they are not even variables.

    In the end, Tony’s Chocolonely is “the” dream business. Their success does not need to be quantified in financial statements. Each one of us can enhance their project. Because, WE, the customers are the solution. On the day, that together we are strong enough to make a tiny hole in the market share of e.g. Nestle, processes and policies will pass from plans in a drawer to actions. There is no hurry for a company like Tony’s. Even if the “sharks” find a way to kick Tony’s out of the market, the message is sent and is strong enough to proliferate.

Location: Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Sector: Accommodation and food service activities

Official website:

Key figures:

Fair Trade Company
Social Entrepreneur
Origin: Their cocoa comes from co-operatives that are registered with the fair trade foundation Max Havelaar. Most of it comes from Ghana and Ivory Coast but also from the Dominican Republic. The chocolate that is used for their bars is made from a mixture of different kinds of beans. With every harvest the tast and quality can vary. The origin of the beans can vary with every ’batch’ to obtain the same taste for all their chocolate but it always comes from the registered co-operatives. A batch is a big quality of liquid cocoa mass that is processed and packed at once.

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