Tony’s Chocolonely is Leading the Way to Slave-Free Chocolate



Tony’s Chocolonely, a Dutch chocolate company founded in 2005, has set a bold vision: to achieve 100% slave-free chocolate worldwide. This case study explores how Tony’s Chocolonely has not only pioneered a purpose-driven approach but also achieved profitability through its commitment to fair trade practices and eliminating child labor in the cocoa industry.


The cocoa industry, particularly in West Africa, has long been plagued by issues of slavery and child labor. Tony’s Chocolonely was born out of a journalist’s discovery of these harsh realities and a determination to make a difference. Teun van de Keuken, the company’s founder, began producing chocolate bars himself after unsuccessful attempts to change the industry through investigative efforts.

Building a Responsible Supply Chain:

Tony’s Chocolonely recognized that to truly make an impact, they needed to transform their supply chain. They started by engaging with farming co-ops in West Africa, ensuring that farmers were not just suppliers but partners in their mission. This involved annual planning, transparent tracking of bean shipments, and creating a sense of shared responsibility among all stakeholders.

Implementing Responsible Business Practices:

Tony’s Chocolonely developed Five Sourcing Principles aimed at helping cocoa farmers out of poverty and eliminating child labor. These principles included long-term relationships with co-ops, traceability of all beans traded, and transparent communication about social impact. As a result, instances of child labor at Tony’s co-ops were significantly lower compared to non-partnered co-ops.

Sharing Impact Data:

To maintain credibility and transparency, Tony’s Chocolonely invested in an information platform called “Beantracker.” This platform tracked physical flows within the supply chain, recorded farmer data, and provided insights into social impact. By sharing this data, Tony’s was able to demonstrate its commitment to eradicating child labor and reducing poverty.

Collaborating for the Common Good:

Tony’s Chocolonely recognized that challenges like child labor require collaborative responses. They collaborated with competitors, suppliers, NGOs, and governments to raise awareness about social issues in the cocoa industry. This collaborative approach has led to the adoption of initiatives like the Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS).

To conclude, Tony’s Chocolonely’s journey demonstrates that even a small brand in a commodity industry can lead the way in creating positive social and environmental impact. By building a resonant supply chain, Tony’s has not only achieved its mission of slave-free chocolate but also shown that profitability and social impact can go hand in hand. As the Harvard Business Review aptly summarizes, “

This Tony’s Chocolonely case shows that even a relatively small brand operating in a commodity industry that produces negative social and environmental effects can successfully build an alternative ecosystem that lifts people out of poverty and the social injustices that accompany it.”

Harvard Business Review


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