Meet the Maker: Tony's Chocolonely

Meet the Maker: Tony's Chocolonely

What’s the story behind Tony’s Chocolonely?

Believe it or not, Tony’s Chocolonely was founded by a Dutch TV journalist named Teun. Teun worked on the consumer report TV show (kinda like a ‘60 Minutes’ of food) Keuringsdienst van Waarde. In 2003, Teun picked up a newsletter and found a shocking, yet small, feature exposing the fact that modern slavery existed in the West African cocoa industry, and at an alarming rate. Teun decided he needed to do something about it. After months of reporting on the issue and trying to get the attention of big choco (who just wouldn’t listen) he took matters into his own hands and decided to make a fair chocolate bar of his own. It was meant to be a one-off project, but it was such a hit that the company he made, Tony’s Chocolonely, decided to stay and make it their mission to end modern slavery and illegal child labor in the cocoa industry.

Conventional chocolate businesses have a lot of shady practices. Tell us how the Open Chain is working to combat that.

Tony’s Open Chain initiative helps companies take responsibility for ensuring a fully traceable cocoa supply chain and paying a higher price to address poverty, the root cause of social injustice for cocoa farmers. Tony’s Open Chain uses our 5 Sourcing Principles for a fairer cocoa industry:
• Transitioning to fully traceable cocoa beans. Knowledge of what is happening on the ground empowers companies to address social justice issues in the supply chain and take responsibility for enabling dignified livelihoods for cocoa farmers.

  • Paying an additional premium for their cocoa beans, enabling farmers to earn a living income.
  • Promoting strong co-operatives to professionalize and make the work of cocoa farming safe and sustainable. Collectively, this means farmers stand strong and are empowered to change structural inequity in the value chain.
  • Engaging in long-term commitments giving the farmers income security and the opportunity to invest in their businesses.
  • Coaching farmers to improve their cocoa productivity and quality and improve their agricultural knowledge on relevant crops. More cocoa means more income!

Ben & Jerry’s recently joined Open Chain. How did that partnership happen?

The simple answer? We share a passion for social justice. Ben & Jerry’s joins Tony’s Chocolonely in elevating the mission of making chocolate free of modern slavery. In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire there are currently 30,000 cases of modern slavery and 1.56 million cases of child labour in the chocolate industry, and millions of cocoa farmers are forced to live in poverty. By committing to Tony’s Open Chain, Ben & Jerry’s will take responsibility for ensuring an open and transparent supply chain of their cocoa beans.
As a Mission Ally of Tony’s Open Chain and by beginning their conversion to buying cocoa directly from eight cooperatives in Côte d'Ivoire, Ben & Jerry’s will not only know which farmers produce the beans that go into their chocolatey ice cream, but also under which social and environmental circumstances. Full traceability and transparency of the cocoa supply chain is crucial to achieve social justice for cocoa farmers – and to enable a dignified livelihood.

Tell us about your collaboration bars!

Tony’s two new chocolate bars are inspired by two of Ben & Jerry’s irresistible classic flavors, Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Strawberry Cheesecake. The dark milk chocolate brownie bar is the perfect combo of Tony’s Chocolonely’s dark milk chocolate and brownie pieces. While the white strawberry cheesecake style bar features Tony’s Chocolonely’s white cheesecake-style chocolate paired with sticky strawberries and crumbly cookie pieces. Yum!

What’s next on the horizon for Tony’s Chocolonely or what do you hope to do next?

We are ecstatic about Ben & Jerry’s joining Tony’s Open Chain. It’s one giant leap for our impact, but it’s just one small step towards changing the chocolate industry. To eliminate exploitation in the cocoa industry we need everybody to join in – retailers, choco fans, governments and chocolate companies alike. That’s why it’s so important for us to have friends like you!
So, what we're hoping to do next is increase our impact with more mission allies. One really important factor in that goal is rooting ourselves in the US! There’s a whole lotta people in the US, and so many chocolate companies, that we have yet to reach and bring into our mission.

Tell us about one thing on your mind right now either environmentally or socially.

The same thing that’s always on our minds and in our hearts! The wellbeing of cocoa farmers in West Africa. We feel directly responsible for creating a cocoa industry that is more equitable for cocoa farmers and their families, and that motivates us to work hard every day to be the catalysts of change in the cocoa industry.
This year we’ve been particularly focused on proving that our model works. The average child labor prevalence in the cocoa industry is 50%, and we’ve proven that our model can reduce that to less than 5%. And we’re proud of that! But still, we need partners to amplify our impact, and to do that we need to prove our model works at any scale. That’s where Ben & Jerry’s comes in, a shining example proving that even large companies can achieve supply chain transparency!
Ultimately, we want to help improve the livelihoods of as many cocoa farmers as we possibly can. The challenge of how to get there is what’s on our minds each and every day.

What is Tony's Open Chain?
Tony's Open Chain is an initiative started by Tony’s Chocolonely that invites other companies to collaborate in ending modern slavery and child labor in order to build a fair and equal chocolate industry. The way we can eradicate modern slavery and child labor in the chocolate industry is by working together to tackle the root cause – poverty. By adopting Tony’s 5 Sourcing Principles, companies can level up their cocoa sourcing, ensuring the cocoa beans in their production process are completely traceable. This approach aims to end structural poverty amongst cocoa farmers, which is the root cause behind modern slavery and child labor.

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