A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Did these bright and cheerful colours of the packaging catch your eyes while shopping in the supermarket? As tasty as they are, bars of Tony’s Chocolonely has a sacred aim other than just high-quality chocolate: a slave-free chocolate industry.
The story behind it
It all starts with the Dutch investigator reporter, Teun van de Keuken, finding out during his TV show that none of the chocolate manufacturers signed the related protocols and operates in a slave-free way in 2002. He even sued himself, after eating 17-bars of chocolate (there is never too much chocolate I guess?), for ‘knowingly purchasing illegally produced products’, even though the case was later rejected by the Attorney General for lack of jurisdiction.
When no company he contacts show interest in producing their goods in a fairer way, free of child labour and slavery, van de Keuken decides to take things in his hands and introduces his own chocolate brand in 2007: Tony’s Chocolonely, Tony representing his name; Teun. How heroic is it?
With the motto of “Crazy about chocolate, serious about people”, Tony’s Chocolonely produces tasty chocolate bars with completely slave-free cocoa, which is even affirmed by a court ruling. Another case by a competitor claiming it is impossible to produce entirely slave free chocolate also failed.
The current situation
Production of Tony’s Chocolonely increased steadily over the years and so did the market share. As of 2018, these delicious bars can also be found in the US, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, while the market share for its own country was 19%, exceeding multinational competitors such as Verkade, Mars and Nestle, which I guess shows that Dutch people care about where their products come from.
Today, Tony’s Chocolonely continues its operation with fair trade practices, as an advocate against slavery and child labour who partners with local trading companies in Ghana and Ivory Coast. It buys the cacao directly from the farmers in these countries with a fair price. Apart from this holy aim, its chocolates are my personal favourite with many interesting combinations:
As its bright colourful packaging appeals the eye, a surprise awaits you when you open it: pieces are unevenly divided; stories say reflecting the maps of the countries the cocoa is produced or symbolizing the inequalities in the chocolate industry.
The more I spoke with people about it, I realized not even many Dutch people know the story behind this brand. Did you already know? What is your favourite flavour? Would you now prefer it over other brands? Let me know in the comments!