In the world of cocoa and confections, where chocolate reigns as king, lies a bitter truth beneath the sweetness. While savoring a bar of chocolate may seem like a blissful indulgence, the cocoa industry is marred by issues like child labor, forced labor, economic exploitation, and environmental degradation. 

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), an estimated 1.56 million children were engaged in hazardous work in cocoa production in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana in 2019, and poverty among cocoa farmers is widespread, with many living on less than $2 per day. 

But amidst these challenges, Tony's Chocolonely, a Global Citizen Rewards partner, emerges as a champion for change, blending their passion for chocolate with a commitment to ethical sourcing that aims to eradicate exploitation from cocoa production.

Tony’s Chocoloney Origin Story

Tony's Chocolonely isn't just another chocolate company. It's a movement fueled by a mission to change the cocoa industry and eliminate exploitation. But the journey began with a single individual – Teun van de Keuken, a Dutch TV journalist. In 2003, Teun (AKA Tony) stumbled upon a news article exposing the prevalence of forced labor in the cocoa industry. Shocked by this, he embarked on a mission to shed light on the dark realities of cocoa production.

Teun's quest for justice took many forms, from confronting chocolate companies to exploring legal avenues. Despite facing resistance and challenges, he remained steadfast in his mission to make a difference. In a bold act of protest, Teun consumed chocolate likely produced through exploitative labor and sought to hold himself accountable under Dutch law.

This symbolic gesture laid the foundation for Tony's Chocolonely – 5,000 Fairtrade, traceable milk chocolate bars wrapped in brightly colored packaging, symbolizing Teun's solitary pursuit of a fairer cocoa industry. What began as a one-time initiative has blossomed into a thriving enterprise driven by a shared vision of ethical sourcing and social responsibility.

5 Principles to Responsibly Produce Chocolate

Today, the company is guided by five sourcing principles, each designed to ensure that the cocoa they source benefits farmers as much as it does chocolate enthusiasts. Here’s a little breakdown on how it work:

1.Traceable Cocoa Beans:

By meticulously tracing cocoa beans back to the farmer by ensuring they are purchased directly from partner cooperatives (Kapatchiva, Ecojad, Socoopacdi and ECAM in Ivory Coast and ABOCFA, Asetenapa and Asunafo in Ghana) Tony’s has created unprecedented transparency for the chocolate supply chain. It's not merely about crafting delicious chocolate; it's about empowering farmers with fair wages and dignified working conditions.

2. Paying a Fair Price:

Dismissing the notion of "you get what you pay for," Tony's Chocolonely pays a premium for cocoa beans, ensuring farmers receive just compensation for their labor. They introduce a premium, including the Fairtrade premium and an additional Tony's premium, to bridge the gap between current and decent living incomes for farmers.

3.Building Partnerships with Strong Farmers:

Cocoa farmers aren't just suppliers; they're partners in a shared mission. Together, they forge relationships built on trust, respect, and mutual benefit. It's a collaborative effort to create a cocoa community where farmers thrive and chocolate lovers rejoice. Tony’s has put effort into making the farmers they partner with stronger. They help them improve how they run things and organize themselves better. 

4.Long-Term Commitment:

Creating lasting change requires patience and persistence. That's why Tony's is in it for the long haul. They're not content with quick fixes; they're dedicated to nurturing cocoa farming communities for generations to come. How do they do this? Tony’s partner with farmers for at least five years. This means farmers know they'll get extra money for their crops from Tony's Chocolate for several years. This helps them plan ahead and invest in their farms for the long term. For example, they can buy new cocoa plants or better equipment. Additionally, there are programs like the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), that help with issues like child labor and farmers' rights. But first, they aim to make sure the community supports these efforts before they can tackle child labor or slavery.

5.Higher Quality and Productivity:
Tony's premium payment motivates farmers to improve crop yield, leading to better beans and potentially doubling cocoa output. Through training and collaboration, farmers can significantly enhance productivity, contributing to their economic empowerment.

Recognizing that no company operates in isolation, Tony's embraces collaboration and transparency. They believe in sharing knowledge and resources to drive systemic change across the chocolate industry. Together, with their Open Chain initiative which aims to assist chocolate brands in overhaul their cocoa supply chains, positioning them as leaders in sustainability – they're reshaping the narrative of cocoa sourcing, one transparent partnership at a time.

The Proof Is In the Numbers

It’s all good and well to have these steps in place, but do they work? Well, looking back in their 2022 to 2023 financial year, over 17, 740 farmers were positively impacted – about 2, 977 than the previous year. Furthermore, Tony’s Open Chain sourced a whopping 14,826 metric tons of cocoa beans from over 17,000 farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. That's not just cocoa, it's cocoa with a side of empowerment. By buying up more beans at better prices, they’re not just making chocolate, they’re making cocoa farmers smile with those sweet, sweet earnings.

Their mission allies are the secret sauce in their recipe for success. Tony’s aim to grow their market share tenfold, reaching a delicious 5% of the entire West African cocoa market. It's not just about the business growth, though — it's about changing the way cocoa is sourced for good, making sure every bean is sourced responsibly and sustainably. 

At the rate they’re going, things are about to get trace-tastic! We're not just talking about tracking beans; we're talking about knowing those beans inside and out. Every bean in their supply chain has its own story, from the farm it came from to the journey it took to get to the consumer. And they’re not stopping there — social traceability helps us sniff out child labor issues, while environmental traceability lets them map out every cocoa farm with GPS precision. Read more here.

As Tony's Chocolonely continues its sweet revolution, it's not just about cocoa; it's about weaving a tapestry of empowerment, one chocolate bar at a time. With each bite, savor not just the flavor, but the journey towards a world where ethics and indulgence happily coexist.

Want to know more about our Global Citizen Rewards? Click here for details on how you can earn rewards for the actions you take. 


Demand Equity

How Tony’s Chocolonely Uses 5 Sourcing Principles to Reshape the Cocoa Supply Chain for Good

By Mel Ndlovu