Tony’s Chocolonely gains multi-million investment for tackling chocolate industry child labour

Netherlands-based ethical confectionery business Tony’s Chocolonely has accelerated its mission to achieve a 100% slave-free chocolate industry with a major €36 million investment in the business by  Verlinvest and JamJar.

The two organisations have taken a minority share of 28% in the chocolate manufacturer, as it continues to help raise the importance and profile of delivering confectionery free from major issues of child labour and farmer poverty that surround the industry.

“With the investment of Verlinvest and JamJar, we can accelerate in achieving our goal of making all chocolate worldwide 100% slave-free. To accomplish this, it is important that we can continue to grow internationally so that more and more people – consumers, retailers, governments, big chocolate companies, and farmers alike – can be involved in our mission.”, says Henk Jan Beltman, Chief Chocolate Officer of Tony’s Chocolonely.

The Dutch chocolate company (pictured speaking at the recent Chocoa event in Amsterdam), founded 15 years ago by Dutch journalists on a mission to uncover issues of forced (child) labour and modern slavery in the cocoa-industry, has had a steep growth curve in the past and is now the chocolate bar market leader in the Netherlands.

In addition to growing the brand internationally, the investment of Verlinvest and JamJar will also be used to develop Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Circus in Zaandam, The Netherlands. With this chocolate factory, which will double as a visitor’s centre, Tony’s Chocolonely expects to host 500,000 chocolate fans annually that will be familiarised with the issues of inequality the chocolate industry.

Verlinvest, the investment vehicle of Belgian family De Spoelbergh (InBev), has a track record of investing in sustainable consumer brands with interest in, amongst others, Oatly and previously in Dutch supermarket chain Marqt. JamJar is the private equity fund of the founders of Innocent drinks. (Here’s a juicy detail: Beltman was Country Manager for Benelux for Innocent Drinks from 2004 to 2008.)
Ben Black (Verlinvest): “Tony’s Chocolonely has enormous potential to become everyone’s favorite chocolate brand worldwide. We believe it is important to support its mission and to invest in a company that, thanks to their innovative business model, contributes to fundamental change in the chocolate-industry.”

Adam Balon: “Over the course of only a few years, Henk Jan has created a fantastic brand and has set a new standard for the chocolate industry. I look forward to creating a truly global impact brand with him and the entire team at Tony’s Chocolonely.”

Ben Black and Adam Balon will join the Supervisory Board of Tony’s Chocolonely starting [date]. 51% of the voting power remains in the hands of Henk Jan Beltman. Current shareholders Maurice Dekkers (founder) and Eveline Raymans (former Managing Director of Tony’s Chocolonely) will retain their shares. 15% of the company will remain in the possession of Tony’s employees.

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