Tony’s Chocolonely wants to make all chocolate 100% slave free

Tony’s Chocolonely wants to make all chocolate 100% slave free. "Not just our chocolate, but all chocolate worldwide." 

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Written by HYER NEWSROOM

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Not exactly the average company, right? Instead a chocolate company whose primary goal is to resolve a social issue in the world.

 

From PR stunt to market leader. Dutch TV producer and journalist Teun van de Keulken founded Tony’s Chocolonely in the Netherlands in 2004 in an attempt to shake up the media and uncover the dark truth behind the cocoa industry.

 

His first batch of 5,000 bars made from 100% slave-free cocoa sold within a matter of hours, and the impact-driven company hasn’t shown signs of slowing since. Today, Tony’s bars are sold in 22 countries, and by 2018, it had become the market leader in the Netherlands, with a 19% market share. In 2020, the chocolate brand sold an impressive 36,560,690 chocolate bars and saw its net revenue soar to £76.3 million, a 27% increase from the year before.

 

It turns out Forrest Gump was right; you never know “what you’re gonna get” in a box of chocolates. There’s a dark truth behind the chocolate industry, that stretches far beyond the imagination.

 

A truth that Teun witnessed first-hand in 2002 when he began producing programmes about the abuses within the cocoa industry in a show called “Tony and the Chocolate Factory.” Picture Willy Wonka but replace the Oompa Loompas with 30,000 unpaid slaves, and 1.56 million children working in illegal conditions.

 

So, when Teun founded the company, it was thought be a mere PR stunt. But with his first 5,000-bar batch selling out in a matter of hours, he had unearthed a serious demand for slave-free chocolate!

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Seizing this momentum, the company has kept growing since, with ambitious plans to keep scaling by 50% year-on-year. Tony’s Chocolonely became the real deal; a chocolate company that’s “crazy about chocolate, serious about people,” with a mission to make all chocolate 100% slave free across the globe.

 

With celebrity endorsements from Idris Elba, Pharrell Williams, and Dutch rapper Akwasi, amongst others, Tony’s is turning heads and ‘raising the bar’ for 100% slave free chocolate industry-wide.

 

Every day, billions of people all over the world consume chocolate. Yet over 60% of the cocoa used to make it, is produced by a comparatively small minority of farming families in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, of which 30,000 are confirmed to be unpaid slaves, and those who are paid receive a meagre £0.68 per day; nowhere near enough to support their family.

 

Without fair pay, thousands of children will continue to be forced into work; sent away from their families or abducted by traffickers and forced to work on cocoa farms without pay.

 

And Tony’s goal isn’t to sacrifice their share of the bar. They’re on a mission to make a bigger bar. A bar so big that they themselves can continue to grow and compete, whilst helping everyone in the supply chain prosper with a fair share of the bar.

 

Importantly, the company wasn’t the only one to see financial success. Tony’s Chocolonely is unequivocally committed to paying the farmers it works with an additional premium above the Fairtrade premium; a figure which rose from 52% to 68% last year, with the company paying over £3 million above the farmgate price on the beans it sourced.

 

What’s more, as of September 2020, almost 17% of the Tony’s beneficial ownership was held in the hands of the company’s very own employees; a team that has grown to around 116 workers. The message is clear; the bigger the bar, the bigger the share – for everyone.

 

In fact, if you’ve ever opened a Tony’s bar you can’t have missed its distinctively piecemeal texture, which, frankly makes it a nightmare for anyone counting calories, and a particularly antisocial snack to share. The bar is unequally divided into a bunch of weird shapes that make it look as though it smashed when you dropped it on your way home.

 

But this design is both clever and intentional. It serves to convey the all-important message that “As long as the chocolate industry is unequally divided, our bar will stay that way too.”

 

Having made heavy investments geared towards international expansion in 2020, Tony’s is powering through with ambitious growth plans for 2021, aiming to increase net revenues by 35%, driven primarily from growth in the US, the UK and DACH. With the world beginning to awake following a long year of ‘pause’, 2021 marks an exciting time for the impact-driven team at Tony’s Chocolonely, which shows no signs of slowing down.

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Article Details

  Feature with:           Tony's Chocolonely

Founder, Teun van de Keuken

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