Tony Chocolonely was started by a Dutch journalist – no chocolate making experience just a desire to eradicate child forced labour in the world’s greatest producing cocoa bean countries. Tony’s story starts with him investigating the big multinationals who manufacture and sell chocolate, who in 2001 were signatories to the non-binding Harkin and Engel Protocol aimed at eradicating the worst forms of child labour from the supply chain of cocoa within 5 years. In 2005, Tony investigated the progress that had been made and realised that nothing had been achieved. At that point he took his case to court but instead of taking action against the large conglomerates, he asked the judge to arrest him because through the simple action of purchasing and consuming chocolate he was complicit in the criminal activities occurring in the supply chain, namely the forced child labour. Whilst this case failed in court, Tony was inspired to take matters into his own hands and make changes from within. Tony Chocolonely was born with a mission to create 100% slave free chocolate. Within a few short years after launch they became the market leaders in chocolate sales in the Netherlands and today their chocolate is available in more than 20 countries. Whilst there is still much to do to eradicate slave labour on the cocoa plantations, Tony Chocolonely has made great progress in raising awareness, leading by example, and inspiring other chocolate producers to act.
Sadly, this problem is also ever present in the coffee growing industry with some experts estimating that 20% of children in coffee growing countries fall victim to labour exploitation in coffee cultivation. Aiming for traceability of beans, paying a higher price, supporting strong farmers, looking at the long term and focussing on quality and productivity are key themes not just in the chocolate industry but across the coffee industry too. This mission is key to many of the Australian roasters on Acuratore and they like Tony Chocolonely are trying to make small and incremental changes. We are not seeing this kind of leadership from the big multinationals that import the vast majority of green beans but there are some brave small businesses out there doing their bit to improve the plight of all coffee workers. Consumers need to be able to make informed decisions regarding their purchases and raising awareness of the issue is the very first step. Don’t be complicit in the exploitation of coffee workers both paid and unpaid. Vote with your wallets and support those who support the disenfranchised.
If you would like to know more about Tony Chocolonely check out their website: Tony's Chocolonely (tonyschocolonely.com)