Tony’s Chocolonely defends its removal from ethical chocolate list

A recent article from The Times has unveiled that the fast-growing anti-slavery chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely has been dropped from a list of ethical makers because of its links with a large manufacturer that admits it benefits from child labour. The chocolate, which is sold by Sainsbury’s, has been dropped by Slave Free Chocolate because of its links to Barry Callebaut, which has admitted that its own supply chain is not child labour and slavery-free.

Tony’s Chocolonely released the following statement on its website addressing concerns from customers:

“Hey Choco Fans, we wanted to give you our response to The Times article published today which is critical of us. As always, we wanted to be as transparent as possible and clarify a few things.
Is there illegal labour in our supply chain? 

The short answer is yes, but we have never said differently, and we are glad we know about it because then we can eradicate it. We actively look for instances so we can solve them. We have a Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) in place across all 7 cocoa cooperatives that we source from in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Last year we found 387 cases of illegal child labour and remediated 221. We have never found a case of modern slavery in our supply chain. Most big chocolate companies do not know how many cases of illegal labour there are in their cocoa supply chain and therefore they cannot work to remediate them, this is only made possible because we have a 100% traceable supply chain (as validated by PWC in our annual reports). Our 100% traceable supply chain is possible because Barry Callebaut segregates our cocoa and processes it separately.

Are we no longer listed as an ‘ethical chocolate brand’? 

The author of this particular list, who we have much respect for, does not currently feel that we fulfil all of the criteria to be included on it. This is nothing new to us though – we haven’t been included on several lists of ethical chocolate suppliers in the past because of our decision to source cocoa directly from Ghana and Ivory Coast. Many feel that sourcing from those countries automatically means that there will be illegal labour and modern slavery in your supply chain. We have deliberately chosen this more difficult route for that reason – so we can change it. If we simply ignore the problems in West Africa, or switch sourcing away we will never solve the issue which is why we go to where the problems are – so we can solve them. Similarly, the author of the Slave Free Chocolate list feels that us working with Barry Callebaut is at odds with our mission to make all chocolate 100% slave free, but we work with Barry Callebaut to make this mission possible on a global scale.

Ethical chocolate lists that do include us:
Green America Mighty Earth

Why do Tony’s Chocolonely work with Barry Callebaut?  

Some critics believe we shouldn’t work with Barry Callebaut, one of the biggest cocoa processors in the world. But again, this decision is deliberate. Our mission is to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate, not just our chocolate but all chocolate worldwide. The 3rd pillar of our roadmap is to inspire others to act, most importantly to inspire other big chocolate companies to adopt our five Sourcing Principles. In 2005, we deliberately chose to partner with Barry Callebaut to show that it is possible to be fully traceable while working with a large processor. This way we show that every chocolate company can work according to our 5 sourcing principles. From the start, Barry Callebaut has believed in our mission and collaborated with us to set up fully segregated processing for our 100% traceable beans so they are never mixed with other beans. Working with Barry Callebaut allows us to further scale up our production and enables us to grow Tony Open Chain by processing the 100% traceable cocoa beans from our mission allies, too.

Do we make significant savings from working with Barry Callebaut?

No – we pay more to ensure our cocoa beans are fully segregated and therefore 100% traceable. We may have some efficiency advantages vs smaller ethical brands, but these are not the brands that we are trying to influence to change because they already do great stuff . We want to show the biggest chocolate brands that it is possible to make delicious, profitable chocolate that is free from modern slavery and illegal child labour. If we made our chocolate ourselves, big chocolate companies could disregard our 5 Sourcing Principles as it wouldn’t be possible for them to adopt or use at scale.
We welcome any challenge and debate that helps to raise the bar in the chocolate industry and gets us closer to making 100% slave free the norm in chocolate.”



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Media contact

Kiran Grewal
Editor, International Confectionery

Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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